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THE soul's exit 

In the Iliad/ after the sph'it of Patroclus has 
visited Achilles in his dream, it is described as 
taking its departure, and entering the ground like 
smoke. In long after years, and among widely scat- 
tered communities, we meet with the same imagery ; 
and it is recorded how the soul of Beowulf the 
Goth ' curled to the clouds,' imaging the smoke 
which was curling up from his pyre. A similar 
description of the soul's exit is mentioned in one 
of the works of the celebrated mystic, Jacob 
Boehme,^ who observes : ^ Seeing that man is so 

' xsiii. 100; Keary's Outlines of Primitive Belief, p. 284. 
2 The Three Principles, chap. six. ' Of the Going Forth of 
the Soul.' 


very earthly, therefore he hath none but earthly 
knowledge; except he be regenerated in the gate 
of the deep. He always supposeth that the soul 
— at the deceasmg of the body — goeth only out at 
the mouth, and he understandeth nothmg con- 
cerning its deep essences above the elements. 
When he seeth a blue vapour go forth out of the 
mouth of a dying man, then he supposeth that is 
the soul.' The same conception is still extensively 
believed throughout Europe, and the Kussian pea- 
sant often sees ghostly smoke hovering above 
graves. The Kaffirs hold that at death man leaves 
after him a sort of smoke, ' very like the shadow 
which his living body will always cast before it,' ^ 
reminding us of the hero in the Arabian romance 
of Yokdnan, who seeks the source of life and 
thought, and discovers in one of the cavities of the 
heart a bluish vapour — the living soul. Among 
rude races the original idea of the human soul 
seems to have been that of vaporous materiality, 
w^hich, as Dr. Tylor observes,^ has held so large 
a place in modern philosophy, and in one shape 

' Letourneau's Sociology, p. 252. 
2 Priynitive CtUturc, 1873, i. p. 457. 


or another crops up in ghost stories. The Ba- 
sutos, speaking of a dead man, say that his heart 
has gone out, and the Malays affirm that the soul 
of a dymg man escapes through the nostrils. 

Hogarth has represented the figure of Time 
breathing forth his last — a puff of breath pro- 
ceeding from his mouth ; and a correspondent of 
* Notes and Queries ' ^ relates that, according to a 
popular belief, a considerable interval invariably 
elapses between the first semblance of death and 
what is considered to be the departure of the soul, 
about five minutes after the time when death, to all 
outward appearances, has taken place, *the last 
breath ' may be seen to issue with a vapour ' or 
steam ' out of the mouth of the departed. Accord- 
ing to some foreign tribes, the soul was said to 
dwell mainly in the left eye ; and in New Zealand 
men always ate the left eye of a conquered enemy. 
At Tahiti, in the human sacrifices, the left eye of 
the victim was always offered to the chief pre- 
siding over the ceremony. It was further believed 
in New Zealand that ' in eating the left eye they 
doubled their own soul by incorporating with it 

' 1st S. ii. p. 51. 

B 2 



that of the conquered man. It was also thought 
by some people in the same archipelago that a 
spirit used to dwell in both eyes.' ^ 

The supposed escape of the soul from the 
mouth at death gave rise to the idea that the 
vital principle might be transferred from one 
person to another; and, among the Seminoles 
of Florida, when a woman died in childbirth, the 
infant was held over her face to receive her 
parting spuit. Algonquin women, desirous of 
becoming mothers, flocked to the bed of those 
about tD die, in the hope that they might receive 
the last breath as it passed from the body ; and 
to this day the Tyrolese peasant still fancies a 
good man's soul to issue from his mouth at death 
like a little white cloud. ^ "VYe may trace the same 
fancy in our own country, and it is related ^ that 
while a well-known Lancashire witch lay d^dng, 
* she must needs, before she could " shuffle off this 
mortal coil," transfer her familiar spirit to some 
trusty successor. An intimate acquaintance 

* Letourneau's Sociology, p. 257. 

- Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. p. 433; Brinton's Myths of the 
New World, p. 253. 

3 Harland and Wilkinson's Lancashire Folk-lore, 1867, p. 210. 


from a neighbouring township was sent for in all 
haste, and on her arrival was immediately closeted 
with her dying friend. What passed between them 
has never fully transpired ; but it is asserted 
that at the close of the interview the associate 
received the witch's last breath mto her mouth, 
and with it her familiar spirit. The powers for 
good or evil were thus transferred to her com- 

In order that the soul, as it quits the body, may 
not be checked m its onward course, it has long 
been customary to unfasten locks or bolts, and to 
open doors, so that the struggle between life and 
death may not be prolonged— a superstition com- 
mon in France, Germany, Spain, and England. A 
correspondent of ' Notes and Queries ' tells how for 
a long time he had visited a poor man who was 
dying, and was daily expecting death. Upon calling 
one morning to see his poor friend, his wife in- 
formed him that she thought he would have died 
during the night, and hence she and her friends 
unfastened every lock in the house ; for, as she 
added, any bolt or lock fastened was supposed to 
cause uneasiness to, and hinder, the departure of 


the soul.^ We find the same beHef among the 

Chinese, who make a hole in the roof to let 

out the departing soul ; and the North American 

Indian, fancymg the soul of a dying man to go 

out at the wigwam roof, would beat the sides 

with a stick to drive it forth. Sir Walter Scott, 

in * Guy Mannering,' describes this belief as deep 

rooted among * the superstitious eld of Scotland ; ' 

and at the smuggler's death in the Kaim of 

Derncleugh, Meg Merrilies unbars the door and 

lifts the latch, saying — ■ 

Open lock, end strife, 
Come death, and pass life. 

A similar practice exists among the Esquimos, 
and one may often hear a German peasant express 
his dislike to slam a door, lest he should pinch a 
soul in it. It has been suggested that the un- 
fastening of doors and locks at death may be 
explained by analogy and association. Thus, 
according to a primitive belief, the soul, or the 
life, w^as thought to be tied up,^ so that the 
unloosing of any knot might help to get rid of it 

1 1st s. i. p. 315. 

• Cf. ' Nexosque resolveret artus,' Virgil on the death of Dido. 
iEneid iv. G95. 


at death. The same superstition ' prevailed in 
Scotland as to marriage. Witches cast knots on 
a cord ; and in a Perthshire parish both parties, 
just before marriage, had every knot or tie about 
them loosened, though they immediately proceeded 
in private to tie them each up again.' ^ Another 
explanation suggests that the custom is founded on 
the idea that, when a person died, the ministers 
of purgatorial pains took the soul as it escaped 
from the body, and flattening it against some 
closed door — which alone would serve the purpose 
— crammed it into the hmges and hinge openings ; 
thus the soul in torment was likely to be miser- 
ably squeezed. By openmg the doors, the friends 
of the departed were at least assured that they 
were not made the unconscious instruments of 
torturing the departed.- 

There is a widespread notion among the poor 
that the spirit will linger in the body of a child a 
long time when the parent refuses to part with it, 
an old belief which, under a variety of forms, has 
existed from a primitive period. In Denmark one 

^ See Dal jell's Darker Siq)crstltions of Scotland, 23. 302, and 
Notes and Queries, 1st S. iv. p. 350. - Ibid. i. p. 467. 


must not weei) over the dying, still less allow tears 
to fall on them, for it \Yill hinder their resting in 
the grave. In some parts of Holland, when a child 
is at the point of death, it is customary to shade 
it by the curtains from the parents' gaze, the soul, 
it is said, being detained in the body so long as a 
compassionate eye is fixed upon it. A German 
piece of folk-lore informs us that he who sheds tears 
when leaning over an expiring friend increases the 
difficulty of death's last struggle. A correspondent 
of * Notes and Queries ' alluding to this superstition 
in the North of England writes: 'I said to Mrs. 

B , " Poor little H lingered a long time ; I 

thought when I saw him that he must have died 
the same day, but he lingered on ! " " Yes," said 

Mrs. B , " it was a great shame of his mother. 

He wanted to die, and she would not let him die ; 
she couldn't part with him. There she stood fret- 
ting over him, and couldn't give him up ; and so we 
said to her, 'He'll never die till you give him up,' 
and then she gave him up, and he died quite peace- 
fully." ' ' 

Similarly, it is not good to weep for the dead, as 

^ 1st S. iii. p. 84. 


it disturbs the poace and rest of the soul. In an 
old Danish ballad of Aage and Else, a lover's ghost 
says to his mistress : 

Every time thou weepest, for each tear in that flood, 
The coffin I am laid m is filled with much Llood. 

Or, as another version has it : 

Every time thou'rt joyfiil, 

And in thy mind art glad, 
Then is m^^ grave within 

Hmig romid with roses' leaves. 

Every time thou grievest. 

And in thy mind are sad, 
Then is within my coffin 

As if full of clotted blood. 

A German song tells us how a sister wept in- 
cessantly over her brother's grave, but at last her 
tears became intolerable to the deceased, because 
he was detained on earth by her excessive weeping, 
and suffered thereby great torment. In a fit of 
desperation he cursed her, and in consequence of 
his malediction, she was changed into a cuckoo, so 
that she might always lament for herself.^ Mann- 
hardt relates a pretty tale of a young mother who 

' Kelly's Indo-Eiivopeaii Folk-lore, pp. 127-128. 


wept incessantly over the loss of her only child, 
and would not be comforted. Every night she 
went to the little grave and sobbed over it, till, on the 
evening preceding the Epiphany, she saw Bertha 
pass not far from her, followed by her troop of chil- 
dren. The last of these was one whose little shroud 
was all wet, and who seemed exhausted by the weight 
of a pitcher of water she carried. It tried in vain to 
cross a fence over which Bertha and the rest had 
passed ; but the fond mother, at once recognising 
her child, ran and lifted it over. ' Oh, how warm 
are mother's arms ! ' said the little one ; ' but don't 
cry so much, mother, for I must gather up every 
tear in my pitcher. You have made it too full and 
heavy already. See how it has run over and wet 
all my shift.' The mother cried again, but soon 
dried her tears. 

We may compare a similar superstition among 
the natives of Alaska, when, if too many tears were 
shed by the relatives during the burial ceremonies, 
it was thought that the road of the dead would 
be muddy, but a few tears were supposed just to 
lay the dust.^ The same idea is found in a Hindu 

' Dorman's Primitive Sn2)crstitions, p. 43. 


dirge : * The souls of the dead do not Hke to 
taste the tears let fall by their kindred ; weep not, 
therefore ; ' and, according to the Edda, every 
tear falls as blood upon the ice-cold bosom of 
the dead. We may trace the belief in Ireland, 
and Sir Walter Scott says^ it was generally sup- 
posed throughout Scotland that * the excessive 
lamentation over the loss of friends disturbed the 
repose of the dead, and broke even the rest of the 

The presence of pigeon or game feathers is said 
to be another hindrance to the exit of the soul; 
and, occasionally, m order to facilitate its departure, 
the peasantry in many parts of England will lay a 
dying man on the floor. A Sussex nurse once told 
the wife of a clergyman that ' never did she see 
anyone die so hard as Master Short ; and at last 
she thought — though his daughter said there were 
none — that there must be game feathers in the 
bed. So she tried to pull it from under him, but 
he was a heavy man, and she could not manage it 
alone, and there was none with him but herself, 
and so she got a rope and tied it round him, and 

' In a note to BcdgaiuitJct, Letter xi. 


pulled him right off the bed, and he went off in a 
minute quite comfortable, just like a lamb.' ' In 
Lancashire, this belief is so deep-rooted that some 
persons will not allow sick persons to lie on a 
feather-bed ; while in Yorkshire the same is said of 
cocks' feathers. Shakespeare alludes to the prac- 
tice where Timon says - — 

Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads. 

And Grose remarks : * It is impossible for a person 
to die whilst resting on a pillow stuffed with the 
feathers of a dove, for he will struggle with death 
in the most exquisite torture.' This is also a 
Hindu and Mohammedan belief, and in India ' the 
dying are always taken from their beds and laid 
on the ground, it being held that no one can die 
peaceably except when laid on mother earth. ^ 
In Russia, too, there is a strong feelmg against the 
use of pigeon feathers in beds. 

The summons for the soul to quit its earthly 
tenement has been thought to be announced, from 
early times, by certain strange sounds, a belief 
which Flatman has embodied in some pretty lines : 

1 Folk-lore Be.cord, i. pp. 59-60. - Timon of Athens, iv. 3. 

Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, pp. GO-01. 


My soul, just now about to take her flight 
Into the regions of eternal night, 
Methinks I hear some gentle sph-it say, 
' Be not fearful, come away ! ' 

Pope speaks in the same strain : 

Hark ! they whisper, angels say, 
' Sister spirit, come away ! ' 

And in ' Troilus and Cressida ' (iv. 4), the former 

says : 

Hark ! you are called ; some say, the Genius so 
Cries ' Come ! ' to him that instantly must die. 

As in days gone by so also at the present time, 
there is, perhaps, no superstition more generally 
received than the belief in what are popularly known 
as ' death- warnings,' ^ reference to which we shall 
have occasion to make in a later chapter. 

It has been urged again, that at the hour of 
death the soul is, as it were, on the confines of two 
worlds, and hence may possess a power w^hich is 
both prospective and retrospective. In 'Eichard 
11. ' (ii. 1), the dying Gaunt exclaims, alluding to 
his nephew, the young and self-willed king : 

Methinks I am a prophet, new inspired, 
And thus expiring do foretell of him. 

See Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. p. 145. 


Nerissa says of Portia's father in * Merchant of 
Venice ' (i. 2) : ' Your father was ever virtuous ; 
and holy men at their death have good inspirations.' 
This idea may be traced up to the time of Horner,^ 
and Aristotle tells us that the soul, "when on the 
point of death, foretells things about to happen ; the 
belief still lingering on in Lancashire and other 
parts of England. According to another notion, it 
was generally supposed that when a man was on 
his death-bed, the devil or his agents tried to seize 
his soul, if it should happen that he died without 
receiving the * Eucharist,' or without confessing 
his sins. In the old office books of the Church, 
these * busy meddling fiends ' are often represented 
with great anxiety besieging the dying man ; but 
on the approach of the priest and his attendants 
they are represented as being dismayed. Douce ^ 
quotes from a ma.nuscript book of devotion, of the 
time of Henry YI., the following prayer to St. 
George : ' Judge for me when the most hedyous 
and damnable dragons of helle shall be redy to 
take my poore soule and engloute it into theyr 

> Iliad, ii. 852. 

2 Illustrations of Shaksiieare, 1839, pp. 324-326. 


infernall betyes.' One object, it has been urged, of 
the ' passmg bell ' was to drive away the evil 
spirit that might be hovering about to seize the 
soul of the deceased, such as the king speaks of in 
2 Henry YI. (iii. 3): 

O, beat away the busy meddling fiend, <* 

That lays strong siege unto this wretch's soul, 
And from his bosom purge this black despair. 

We may find the same idea among the Northern 
Californians, who affirmed that when the soul first 
escaped from the body an evil spirit hovered near, 
ready to pounce upon it and carry it off.^ 

It is still a common belief with our seafaring 
community on the east coast of England, that the 
soul takes its departure during the falling of the 
tide. Everyone remembers the famous scene in 
* David Copperfield,' where Barkis's life ' goes out 
with the tide.' As Mi\ Peggotty exj)lained to David 
Copperfield by poor Barkis's bedside, * People 
can't die along the coast except when the tide's 
pretty nigh out. He's a-going out with the tide — 
he's a-going out with the tide. It's ebb at half 
arter three, slack water half an hour. If he lives 

^ Dorman's Priviitive Superstitions, p. 40. 


till it turns he'll hold his own till past the flood, 
and go out with the next tide.' In the parish 
register of Heslidon, near Hartlepool, the subjoined 
extract of old date alludes to the state of the tide 
at the time of death : * The xith daye of Maye, 
A.D. 1595, at vi of ye clocke in the morninge, 
being full water, Mr. Henrye Mitford, of Hoolam, 
died at Newcastel, and was buried the xvi daie, 
being Sondaie. At evening prayer, the hired 
preacher made ye sermon.' Mrs. Quickly in 
' Henry V.' (ii. 3) speaking of Falstaff's death says : 
* 'A made a finer end and went away an it had been 
any christom child ; 'a parted even just between 
twelve and one, even at the turning o' the tide.' In 
Brittany, death claims its victim at ebb of the tide, 
and along the New England coast it is said a sick 
man cannot die until the ebb-tide begins to run. It 
has been suggested that there may be some slight 
foundation for this belief in the chpaige of tempera- 
ture which takes place on the change of tide, and 
which may act on the flickering spark of life, ex- 
tinguishing it as the ebbing sea recedes. 




Many of the conceptions of the human soul formed 
by savage races arose from the phenomena of 
everyday hfe. According to one of the most 
popular dream theories prevalent among the lower 
races, the sleeper's soul takes its exit during the 
hours of slumber, entering into a thousand pursuits. 
Now, as it is well known by experience ' that men 's 
bodies do not go on these ^excursions, the ex- 
planation is that every man's living self, a soul, is 
his phantom or image, which can go out of his 
body and see, and be seen itself, in dreams.' ^ In 
the opinion of the savage, therefore, dreams have 
always afforded a convincing proof of the soul's 
separate existence, and Dr. Tylor considers that 

» Tylor's Anthropology, 1881, p. 343, 


'nothing but dreams and visions could ever have 
put into men's minds such an idea as that of souls 
being ethereal images of bodies.' 

Thus the Dayaks of Borneo believe that in the 
hours of sleep the soul travels far away, and the 
Fijians think that the spirit of a living man during 
sleep can leave the body and trouble some one else. 
But Mr. E. im Thurn, in his * Indians of Guiana* 
(344-346), gives some very striking instances of this 
strange phase of superstitious belief : ' One morn- 
ing, when it was important to me to get away from 
a camp on the Essequibo Eiver, at which I had 
been detained for some days by the illness of some 
of my Indian companions, I found that one of the 
invalids, a young Macusi Indian, though better in 
health, was so enraged against me that he refused 
to stir, for he declared that, with great want of 
consideration for his weak health, I had taken him 
out during the night, and had made him haul the 
canoe up a series of difficult cataracts. Nothing 
could persuade him that this was but a dream, and 
it was some time before he was so far pacified as to 
throw himself sulkily into the bottom of the canoe. 
At that time we were all suffering from a great 


scarcity of food, and, hunger having its usual 
effect in producing vivid dreams, similar events 
frequently occurred. More than once the men 
declared in the morning that some absent men 
whom they named had come during the night, and 
had beaten, or otherwise maltreated them; and 
they insisted on much rubbing of the bruised parts 
of their bodies.' ^ 

Another evidence in savage culture of the soul's 
having its own individuality, independently of the 
bod}^ is the fact that a person through some 
accident may suddenly fall into a swoon, remaining 
to all outward appearance dead. When such a 
one, however, revives and is restored to conscious- 
ness, the savage is wont to exclaim that he died 
for a time until his soul was induced to return. 

Hence Mr. Williams informs us^ how the Fijians 
believe, w^hen anyone dies or faints, that the soul 
may sometimes be brought back by calling after it ; 
and in China, when a child is at the point of death, 
the mother will go into the garden and call its 

^ See further instances in Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. pp. 440, 

2 Fiji and the Fijians, i. p. 242. 

c 2 


name, thinking thereby to bring back the i^ali- 
dering spirit. On this account divination and 
sorcery are extensively employed, and certain ' wise 
men' profess to have a knowledge of the mystic 
art of invoking souls that for some reason or other 
may have deserted their earthly tenement.^ 

The Eev. W. W. Gill, in his ' Myths and Songs 
from the South Pacific ' (171-172), gives a curious 
instance of the wandering of the soul during life. 
* At Uea, one of the Loyalty Islands, it was 
the custom formerly, when a person was very ill, 
to send for a man whose employment it was to 
restore souls to forsaken bodies. The soul doctor 
would at once collect his friends and assistants, to 
the number of twenty men, and as many women, 
and start off to the place where the family of the 
sick man was accustomed to bury their dead. 
Upon arriving there, the soul doctor and his male 
companions commenced playing the nasal flutes 
with which they had come provided, in order to 
entice back the spirit to its old tenement. The 
women assisted by a low whistling, supposed to be 

* See Sir John Lubbock's Origin of Civilisation and the 
Primitive Condition of Man, 1870, p. 141. 


irresistibly attractive to exile spirits. After a time 
the entire j)rocession proceeded towards the dwelHng 
of a sick person, flutes playing and the women 
whistling all the time, leading back the truant 
spirit. To prevent its possible escape, with their 
palms open, they seemingly drove it along with 
gentle violence and coaxing. On entering the 
dwelling of the patient, the vagrant spirit was 
ordered in loud tones at once to enter the body of 
the sick man.' 

In the same way, too, according to a popular 
superstition among rude tribes, some favoured 
persons are supposed to have the faculty of sending 
forth their own souls on distant journeys, and 
of acquiring, by this means, information for their 
fellow creatures. Thus the Australian doctor 
undergoes his initiation by such a journey, and 
those who are not equally gifted by nature subject 
themselves to various ordeals, so as to possess the 
supposed faculty of releasing their souls for a time 
from the body. From this curious phase of 
superstition have arisen a host of legendary stories, 
survivals of which are not confined to uncivilised 
communities, but are found among the folk-tales 


of most countries. Mr. Baring Gould, ^ for in- 
stance, quotes a Scandinavian story in which the 
Norse Chief Ingimund shut up three Finns in a 
hat for three nights so that their souls might make 
an expedition to Iceland, and bring back infor- 
mation of the nature of the country where he was 
eventually to settle. Accordingly their bodies soon 
became rigid, they dismissed their souls on the 
errand, and on awakening after three days, they 
gave Ingimund an elaborate description of the 
country in question. We may compare this phase 
of belief with that which is commonly known in 
this country as second sight. ^ 

Among the Hervey Islanders, Mr. Gill says : * The 
philosophy of sneezing is that the spirit having 
gone travelling about — perchance on a visit to the 
homes or burjdng-places of its ancestors — its return 
to the body is naturally attended with some 
difficulty and excitement, occasionally a tingling 
and enlivening sensation all over the body. 
Hence the various customary remarks addressed 
to the returned spirit in different islands. At 

' Wcreivolvcs, p. 29. 
- See Chapter on Second Siglit. 


Karotonga, when a person sneezes, the bystanders 
exclaim, as though addressing a spirit, *' Ha ! you 
have come back." ' 

Then there is the widespread Animistic belief, 
in accordance with which each man has several 
souls; — some lower races treating the breath, the 
dream ghost, and other appearances as being 
separate souls. This notion seems to have origin- 
ated in the pulsation of the heart and arteries, 
which rude tribes regard as indications of inde- 
pendent life. Thus this fancy is met with in 
various parts of America and exists also in Mada- 
gascar. It prevails in Greenland, and the Fijians 
affirm that each man has two souls. This belief, 
too, is very old, evidences of its existence being 
clearly traceable among the ancient Greeks and 
Eomans.^ Indeed, classic literature affords ample 
proof of how the beliefs of modern savages are in 
many cases survivals of similar notions held in 
olden times by nations that had made considerable 
progress in civilisation. 

^ See Tylor's AnthropologTj , p. 345 ; and Sir John Lubbock's 
Origin of Civilisation and the Primitive Condition of Man, p. 141 ; 
and H. Spencer's PrinciiyJcs of Sociology, 1885, i. p. 777. 




It has from time immemorial been a widely recog- 
nised belief among mankind that the soul after 
death bears the likeness of its fleshly body, although 
opinions have differed largely as to its precise 
nature. But it would seem to be generally 
admitted that the soul set free from its earthly 
tenement is at once recognised by anyone to whom 
it may appear, reminding us of Lord Tennyson's 
dictum in ' In Memoriam ' : 

Eternal form shall still divide 
The eternal soul from all beside ; 

And I shall know him when we meet. 

Despite the fact that the disembodied spirit has 
been supposed to retain its familiar likeness, we 
find all kinds of strange ideas existing in most parts 
of the world as to what sort of a thing it really is 


w^hen its condition of existence is so completely 
changed. Thus, according to a conception which 
has received in most ages very extensive credence, 
the soul has substantiality. This was the Greek 
idea of ghosts, and ' it is only,' writes Bishop 
Thirlwall, ' after their strength has been repaired by 
the blood of a slaughtered victim, that they recover 
reason and memory for a time, can recognise their 
living friends, and feel anxiety for those they have 
left on earth.' A similar notion of substantiality 
prevailed among the Hebrews, and, as Herbert 
Spencer points out, ' the stories about ghosts 
accepted among ourselves in past times involved 
the same thought. The ability to open doors, to 
clank chains, and make other noises implies con- 
siderable coherence of the ghost's substance.' ' 
That this conception of the soul was not only 
received but taught, may be gathered from Ter- 
tullian, who says : f Th e soul is material, composed 
of a substance different to the body, and particular. 
It has all the qualities of matter, but it is immortal. 
It has a figure Hke the body. It is born at the 
same time as the flesh, and receives an individu- 

> Principles of Sociology, 1885, i. p. 174. 
'j{ -4r\ it£^ tUC[ X- CrY. X V ^ 


ality of character v^hkli it never loses.' He further 
describes ^ a vision or revelation of a certain Monta- 
nist prophetess, of the soul seen by her corporeally, 
thin and lucid, aerial in colour, and human in form. 
It is recorded, too, as an opinion of Epicurus, 
that ' they ^vho say the soul is incorporeal talk 
folly, for it could neither do nor suffer anything 

\ ^^were it such. It was the idea of materiality that 
caused the superstitious folk in years gone by to 
attribute to ghosts all kinds of weird and eccentric 
acts wdiich could not otherwise be explained. And 

- yet it has always been a puzzle in Animistic philo- 
sophy, how a ghost could be possessed at one 
moment of a corporeal body, and immediately 
afterwards vanish into immateriality, escaping sight 
and touch. But this strange ghost phenomenon 
is clearly depicted in sacred history, where we find 
substantiality, now insubstantiality, and now 
something between the two, described. Thus, as 
Herbert Spencer remarks, ^ ' the resuscitated Christ 
was described as having wounds that admitted of 
tactual examination, and yet as passing unimpeded 

' De Anima, p. 9 ; see Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. p. 456. 
2 Princiiilcs of Sociology, 1885, i. p. 174. 


through a closed door or through \^'alls.' And, as 
he adds, the supernatural beings of the Hebrews 
generally, * whether revived dead or not, were 
similarly conceived : here, angels dining with 
Abraham, or pulling Lot into the house, apparently 
possess complete corporeity ; there, both angels and 
demons are spoken of as swarming invisibly in the 
surrounding air, thus being incorporeal; while 
elsewhere they are said to have wings, implying 
motion by mechanical action, and are repre- 
sented as rubbing against, and wearing out, the 
dresses of Eabbins in the S^aiagogue.' All kinds 
of strange theories have been suggested by per- 
plexed metaphysicians to account for this duplex 
nature of the disembodied soul ; Calmet having 
maintained that ^ immaterial souls have their own 
vaporous bodies, or occasionahy have such vapor- 
ous bodies provided for them by supernatural 
means to enable them to appear as spectres, or that 
they possess the power of condensing the circum- 
ambient air into phantom-like bodies to invest 
themselves in.' ^ 

In Fiji the soul is regarded quite as a material 

^ See Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. p. 457. 


object, subject to the same laws as the Hvmg body, 
and havmg to struggle hard to gam the paradi- 
saical Bolotu. Some idea, too, of the hardships it 
has to undergo in its material state may be gathered 
from the following passage in Dr. Letourneau's 
' Sociology ' (p. 251) : ' After death the soul of the 
Fijian goes first of all to the eastern extremity of 
Vanna Lcvoii, and during this voyage it is most 
important that it should hold in its hand the soul 
of the tooth of a spermaceti whale, for this tooth 
ought to grow into a tree, and the soul of the poor 
human creature climbs up to the top of this tree. 
When it is perched up there it is obliged to await 
the arrival of the souls of his wives, who have 
been religiously strangled to serve as escort to 
their master. Unless all these and many other 
precautions are taken, the soul of the deceased 
Fijian remains mournfully seated upon the fatal 
bough until the arrival of the good Eavuyalo, who 
kills him once and for all, and leaves him without 
means of escape.' 

According to another popular and widely ac- 
cepted doctrine, the soul was supposed to be com- 
posed of a peculiar subtle substance, a kind of 


vaporous materiality. The Choctaws have their 
ghosts or wandering spirits which can speak and 
are visible, but not tangible.^ The Tongans con- 
ceived it as the aeriform part of the body, related 
to it as the perfume and essence of a flower ; 
and the Greenlanders speak of it as pale and soft, 
without flesh and bone, so that he who tries to grasp 
it feels nothing he can take hold of. The Siamese 
describe the soul as consisting of some strange 
matter, invisible and untouchable. While Dr. 
Tylor quotes a curious passage from Hampole,^ in 
which the soul, owing to the thinness of its sub- 
stance, suffers all the more intense suffering in 
purgatory : 

The soul is more tendre and nesche (soft) 
Than the bodi that hath bones and fleysche ; 
Thanne the soul that is so tendere of kinde, 
Mote nedis hure penaunce hardere j'-finde, 
Than eni bodi that evere on live was. 

Then there is the idea of the soul as a shadow, 
a form of superstition which has given rise to 
many quaint beliefs among uncultured tribes. The 

* Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, p. 20. 
^ Tyler's Primitive Culture, i. p. 456. 


{gasutos, when walking by a river, take care not 
to let tlieir shadow fall on the water, lest a croco- 
dile seize it, and draw the owner in. The Zulu 
affirms that at death the shadow of a man in some 
mysterious way leaves the body, and hence, it 
is said, a corpse cannot cast a shado^v^^ Certain 
African tribes consider that ' as he dies, man leaves 
a shadow behind him, but only for a short time. 
The shade, or the mind, of the deceased remains, 
they think, close to the grave where the corpse has 
been buried. This shadow is generally evil-minded, 
and they often fly away from it in changing their 
place of abode.' ^ The Ojibways tell how one of tlieir 
chiefs died,^ but while they were watching the body 
on the third night, his shadow came back into it. 
He sat up, and told them how he had travelled to 
the Eiver of Death, but was stopped there, and sent 
back to his people. 

Speaking of the human shadow in relation to 
foundation sacrifices, we are reminded ^ how, accord- 
ing to many ancient Eoumenian legends, ' every 

^ Letourneau's Sociology, p. 253. 
- See Tylor's Anthropology, 1881, p. 344. 
3 Nineteenth Century, July 1885, pp. 143-144, ' Transylvanian 
Superstitions,' by Madame Emily de Laszowska Gerard. 


new church or otherwise important building be- 
came a human grave, as it was thought indispens- 
able to its stability to wall in a living man or woman, 
whose spirit henceforward haunts the place. In 
later times this custom underwent some modifica- 
tions, and it became usual, in place of a living man, 
to wall in his shadow. This is done by measuring 
the shadow of a person with a long piece of cord, or 
a ribbon made of strips of reed, and interring this 
measure instead of the person himself, who, un- 
conscious victim of the spell thrown upon him, will 
pine away and die within forty days. It is an 
indispensable condition to the success of this pro- 
ceeding that the chosen victim be ignorant of the 
part he is playing, therefore careless passers by 
near a building may often hear the cry, warning, 
" Beware, lest they take thy shadow ! " So deeply 
engrained is this superstition, that not long ago 
there were professional shadow-traders, who made 
it their business to provide architects with the 
necessary victims for securing their walls.' * Of 
course, the man whose shadow is thus interred 
must die,' argues the Eoumenian, *but as he is 
unaware of his doom, he does not feel any pain or 


anxiety, and so it is less cruel than walling in a 
living man.' 

At the present clay in Eussia, as elsewhere, a 
shadow is a common metaphor for the soul,^ 
whence it arises that there are persons there who 
object to having their silhouettes taken, fearing 
that if they do, they will die before the year is out. 
In the same way, a man's reflected image is sup- 
posed to be in communion with his inner self, and, 
therefore, children are often forbidden to look at 
themselves in a glass, lest their sleep should be 
disturbed at night. It may be added, too, as Mr. 
Clodd points out, that in the barbaric belief of the 
loss of the shadow being baleful, *we have the 
germ of the mediaeval legends of shadowless men, 
and of tales of which Chamisso's " Story of Peter 
Schlemihl" is a type.' ^ Hence the dead in i:ur- 
gatory recognised that Dante was alive when they 
saw that, unlike theirs, his figure cast a shadow on 
the ground. But, as Mr. Fiske observes,^ ' the 
theory which identifies the soul with the shadow, 
and supposes the shadow to depart with the sick- 

' Ealston's Songs of the Russian Pcoi^le, p. 117. 

2 Myths and Dreams, 1885, p. 184. 

» Myths and Myth-makers, 3873, p. 225. 


ness and death of the body, would seem liable to be 
attended with some difficulties in the way of veriii- 
cation, even to the dim intelligence of the savage.' 

Again, another doctrine promulgated under 
various forms in Animistic philosophy is, that the 
existence and condition of the soul depend upon 
the manner of death. JThe AustraHan, for in- 
stance, not content with slaying his enemy, cuts 
off the right thumb of the corpse, so that the 
departed soul may be incapacitated from throwing 
a spear ; and even the half-civihsed Chinese prefer 
the punishment of crucifixion to that of decapita- 
tion, that their souls may not wander headless 
about the spirit worfdT] Similarly the Indians of 
Brazil 'believe that the dead arrive in the other 
world wounded or hacked to pieces, in fact, just as 
they left this.' European folk-lore has preserved, 
more or less, the same idea, and the ghost of the 
murdered person often appears displaying the wounds 
which were the cause of the death of the body. 
Many a weird and ghastly ghost tale still current 
in different parts of the country gives the most 
blood-curdling details of such apparitions; and 
although, in certain cases, a century or so is said to 



have elapsed since they first made then' a2:)pearance, 
they still bear the marks of violence and cruelty 
which were done to them by a murderous hand 
when in the flesh. An old story tells how, when 
the Earl of Cornwall met the fetch of William 
Eufus carried on a very large black goat, all black 
and naked, across the Bodmin moors, he saw that 
it was wounded through the breast. Eobert ad- 
jured the goat, in the name of the Holy Trinity, to 
tell what it was he carried so strangely. He 
answered, ' I am carrying your king to judgment ; 
yea, that tyrant, William Rufus, for I am an evil 
spirit, and the revenger of his malice which he bore 
to the Church of God. It was I that did cause this 
slaughter.' Having spoken, the spectre vanished. 
Soon afterwards Eobert heard that at that very 
hour the king had been slain in the New Forest by 
the arrow of William Tirell.^ This idea corre- 
sponds with what was believed in early times, for 
Ovid - tells us how 

Umbra cruenta Eemi visa est assistere lecto. 

Agam, some modes of death are supposed to 

' Sae Hunt's Popular Romances of the West of England, p. 373. 
- Fasti, V. 457. 


kill not only the body but also the soul. 'Among 
all primitive peoples,' writes Mr. Dorman/ ' where 
a belief in the renewal of life, or the resurrection, 
exists, the peace and happiness of the spirit, which 
remains in or about the body, depend upon 
success in preventing the body, or any part of it, 
from being devoured or destroyed in any manner.' 
^The New Zealanders believed that the man who 
was eaten was annihilated, both body and soul ; and 
one day a bushman, who was a magician, having put 
to death a woman, dashed the head of the corpse 
to pieces with large stones, buried her, and made a 
large fire over the grave, for fear, as he explained, 
lest she should rise again and trouble himj The 
same idea, remarks Sir John Lubbock,^ evidently 
influenced the Californian, who did not dispute the 
immortality of the whites, who buried their dead, 
but could not believe the same of his own peojDle, 
because they were in the habit of burning them, 
maintaining that when they were burnt they 
became annihilated. 

It may be added, too, that the belief underlying 

^ Primitive Superstitions, p. 195. 

2 The Origin of Civilisation, and the Primitive Conditicn of 
Man, 1870, p. 140 ; see Letourneau's Sociology, p. 263. 

D 2 

86 the' ghost world 

the burial customs of most American tribes was 
to preserve the bones of the dead, the opinion 
being that the soul, or a part of it, dwelt in the 
bones. These, indeed, were the seeds which, 
planted in the earth, or preserved unbroken in safe 
places, would in time put on once again a garb of 
flesh, and germinate into living human beings. ^ 
This Animistic behef has been amply illustrated by 
mythology and superstition. In an Aztec legend, 
after one of the destructions of the world, Zoloti 
descended to the realm of the dead, and brought 
thence a bone of the perished race. This, sprinkled 
with blood, grew on the fourth day into a youth, 
the father of the present race. The practice of pul- 
verising the bones of the dead, practised by some 
tribes, and of mixing them with the food, was 
defended by asserting that the souls of the dead 
remained in the bones, and lived again in the 
living.^ The Peruvians were so careful lest any 
of the body should be lost, that they preserved 
even the parings of the nails and clippings of the 
hair — expecting the mummified body to be in- 
habited by its soul ; while the Choctaws maintain 

1 Brinton's Myths of the Neio World, 1868, p. 257. 
- Dorman's Primitive Siqjerstitions, 1881, p. 193. 


that the spirits of the dead will return to the bones 
in the bone mounds, and flesh will knit together 
their loose joints. Even the lower animals w^ere 
supposed to follow the same law. * Hardly any of 
the American hunting-tribes,' writes Mr. Brinton, 
* before their original manners were vitiated by 
foreign influence, permitted the bones of game 
slain in the chase to be broken, or left carelessly 
about the encampment ; they were collected in 
heaps, or thrown into the water.' The Yuricares 
of Bolivia carried this belief to such an inconvenient 
extent that they carefully put by even small fish 
bones, saying that unless this w^as done the fish 
and game would disappear from the country. The 
traveller on the western prairies often notices the 
buffalo skulls, countless numbers of which bleach 
on those vast plains, arranged in circles and 
symmetrical piles by the careful hands of the 
native hunters. The explanation for this practice 
is that these osseous relics of the dead 'contain 
the spirits of the slain animals, and that some 
time in the future they will rise from the earth, 
re-clothe themselves with flesh, and stock the 
prairies anew.' 

As a curious illustration of how every spiritual 


conception was materialised in olden times, may 
be quoted the fanciful conception of the weight 
of the soul. Thus in medieval literature the 
angel in the Last Judgment ' was constantly repre- 
sented weighing the souls in a literal balance, 
while deyils clinging to the scales endeavoured to 
disturb the equilibrium.' ^ But how seriously such 
tests of the weight of the soul have been received, 
may be gathered from the cases now and then 
forthcoming of this materialistic notion of its 
nature. These, writes Dr. Tylor,^ range from the 
* conception of a Basuto diviner that the late queen 
had been bestriding his shoulders, and he never 
felt such a weight in his wife, to Glanvil's story of 
David Hunter, the neatherd, who lifted up the old 
woman's ghost, and she felt just like a bag of 
feathers in his arms ; or the pathetic superstition 
that the dead mother's coming back in the night 
to suckle the baby she has left on earth, may be 
known by the hollow pressed down in the bed 
where she lay, and at last down to the alleged 
modern spiritualistic reckoning of the weight of a 

^ See Lecky's Bationalism in Europe, 1870, i. p. 340; cf. 
Maury's L^gendes Pictiscs, p. 124. 
- Primitive Culture, i. p. 455. 


human soul at from three to four ounces.' But 
the heavy tread which occasionally makes the 
stairs creak and boards resound has been in- 
stanced as showing that, whatever may be the 
real nature of the soul, it is capable of materialising 
itself at certain times, and of displaying an amount 
of force and energy in no way dissimilar to thptt 
which is possessed when living in the flesh. 

Just, too, as souls are possessed of visible forms, 
so they are generally supposed to have voices. 
According to Dr. Tylor,^ * men who perceive evi- 
dently that souls do talk when they present them- 
selves in dream or vision, naturally take for 
granted at once the objective reality of the ghostly 
voice, and of the ghostly form from which it pro- 
ceeds ; ' and this principle, he adds, ' is involved in 
the series of narratives of spiritual communications 
with living men, from savagery onward to civil- 
isation.' European folk-lore represents ghostly 
voices as resembling their material form during 
life, although less audible. With savage races the 
spirit voice is described ' as a low murmur, chirp, 
or whistle.' Thus, when the ghosts of the New 

* See Andrew Lang's Myth, Eitiial, Beligion, i. p. 108. 


Zealanders address the living, they speak in 
whistling tones. The sorcerer among the Zulus 
'hears the s^^irits who speak by whistlings speaking 
to him.' "Whistling is the language of the Cale- 
donians, and the Algonquin Indians of North 
America ' could hear the shadow souls of the dead 
chirp like crickets.' As far back as the time of 
Homer, the ghosts make a similar sound, * and 
even as bats flit gibbering in the secret place of a 
wonderful cavern, even so the souls gibbered as 
they fared together.' ^ 

If Ghosts, when they make their appearance, 
are generally supposed, as already noticed, to 
have a perfect resemblance, in every respect, to 
the deceased person. Their faces appear the same 
— except that they are usually paler than when 
alive — and the ordinary expression is described 
by writers on the subject as ' more in sorrow than 
in anger.'/ Thus, when the ghost of Banquo rises 
and takes a seat at the table, Macbeth says to the 

apparition — 

Never shake 
Thy gory locks at me. 

• Odyssey, sxiv. 


And Horatio tells Marcellus how the ghost of 
Hamlet's father was not only fully armed, but — 

So frown'd he once, when in angi-y parle, 
He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. 

The folk-lore stories from most parts of the 
world coincide in this idea. It was recorded of the 
Indians of Brazil by one of the early European 
visitors that ' they believe that the dead arrive in 
the other world, wounded or hacked to pieces, in 
fact, just as they left this;'^ a statement which 
reminds us of a ghost described by Mrs. Crowe,'^ 
who, on appearing after death, was seen to have the 
very small-pox marks which had disfigured its 
countenance when in the flesh. 

As in life, so in death, it would seem that there 
are different classes of ghosts — the princely, the 
aristocratic, the genteel, and the common. The 
vulgar class, it is said, delight to haunt ' in grave- 
yards, dreary lanes, ruins, and all sorts of dirty 
dark holes and corners.' An amusing anecdote 
illustrative of this belief was related by the daughter 
of * the celebrated Mrs. S.' [Siddons ?] who told Mrs. 

' Tyler's Primitive Culture, i. p. 451. 
- Night Side of Nature. 

42 THE GHOST woeld 

Crowe that when her parents were travelling in 
Wales they stayed some days at Oswestry, and 
lodged in a house which was in a very dirty and 
neglected state, yet all night long the noise of 
scrubbing and moving furniture made it impos- 
sible to sleep. The servants did little or no 
work, for they had to sit up with their mistress to 
allay her fears. The neighbours said that this 
person had killed an old servant, hence the 

disturbance and her terror. Mr. and Mrs. S 

coming in suddenly one day, heard her cry out, 
*Are you there again? Fiend! go away!' But 
numerous tales similar to the above are still cur- 
rent in different parts of the country; and from 
time to time are duly chronicled in the local press. 




The Greeks believed that such as had not received 
funeral rites would be excluded from Elysium. 
The younger Pliny tells the tale of a haunted 
house at Athens, in which a ghost played all kinds 
of pranks owing to the funeral rites having been 
neglected. It is still a deep-rooted belief that 
when the mortal remains of the soul have not been 
honoured with proper burial, it will walk. The 
ghosts of unburied persons not possessing the 
oholus or fee due to Charon, the ferryman of Styx, 
and Acheron, were unable to obtain a lodging or 
place of rest. Hence they were compelled to 
wander about the banks of the river for a hundred 
years, when the portitor, or * ferryman of hell,' 
passed them over in forma pauperis. The famous 
tragedy of 'Antigone' by Sophocles owes much of its 


interest to tliis popular belief on the subject. - In 
most countries all kinds of strange tales are told of 
ghosts ceaselessly wandering about the earth, 
owing to their bodies, for some reason or another, 
having been left unburied. 

There is a well known German ghost, the 
Bleeding Nun. This was a nun who, after 
committing many crimes and debaucheries, was 
assassinated by one of her paramours and denied 
the rites of burial. After this, she used to haunt 
the castle where she was murdered, with her bleed- 
ing wounds. On one occasion, a young lady of 
the castle, willing to elope with her lover, in order 
to make her flight easier, personated the bleeding 
nun. Unfortunately the lover, whilst expecting 
his lady under this disguise, eloped with the 
spectre herself, who presented herself to him and 
haunted him afterwards.^ 

Comparative folk-lore, too, shows how very 
widely diffused is this notion. It is believed by the 
Iroquois of North America, that unless the rites of 
burial are performed, the spirits of the dead hover 
for a time upon the earth in great unhappiness. 
On this account every care is taken to procure the 
' Yardley's Supernatural in Fiction, p. 93. 


bodies of those slain in battle. Certain Brazilian 
tribes suppose that the spirits of the dead have no 
rest till burial, and among the Ottawas, a great 
famine was thought to have been produced on 
account of the failure of some of their tribesmen 
to perform the proper burial rites. After having 
repaired their fault they vrere blessed with abund- 
ance of provisions. The Australians went so far as 
to say that the spirits of the unburied dead became 
dangerous and malignant demons. . Similarly, the 
Siamese dread, as likely to do them some harm, the 
ghosts of those who have not been buried with 
proper rites, and the Karens have much the same 
notion. According to the Polynesians, the spirit of 
a dead man could not reach the sojourn of his 
ancestors, and of the gods, unless the sacred fune- 
real rites were performed over his body. If he 
was buried with no ceremony, or simply thrown 
into the sea, the spirit always remained in the 

Under one form or another, the same belief 
may be traced in most parts of the world, and, as 
Dr. Tylor points out,^ 'in mediaeval Europe the 

* Letourneau's Sociology, p. 257. 

' Primitive Culture, ii. p. 29; Douce's Illustrations of 
Shakespeare, pp. 450, 451. 


classic stories of ghosts that haunt the living till 
laid by rites of burial pass here and there into new 
legends where, under a changed dispensation, the 
doleful wanderer now asks christian burial in con- 
secrated earth.' Shakespeare alludes to this old 
idea, and in ' Titus Andronicus ' (i. 2) Lucius, 
speaking of the unburied sons of Titus, says : 

Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths, 
That we may hew his Hmbs, and on a pile 
Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh, 
Before this earthly prison of their bones ; 
That so the shadows be not unappeas'd, 
Nor we disturb 'd with prodigies on earth. 

Hence the appearance of a spirit, in times 
past, was often regarded as an indication that 
some foul deed had been done, on which account 
Horatio in ' Hamlet ' (i. 1) says to the ghost : 

If there be any good thing to be done 
That may to thee do ease, and grace to me, 
Speak to me. 

In the narrative of the sufferings of Byron 
and the crew of H.M. ship * Wager,' on the 
coast of South America, we find a good illustration 
of the superstitious dread attaching to an unburied 


corpse. * The reader will remember the shameful 
rioting, mutiny, and recklessness which disgraced 
the crew of the "Wager," nor will he forget the 
approach to cannibalism and murder on one 
occasion. These men had just returned from a 
tempestuous navigation, in which their hopes of 
escape had been crushed, and now what thoughts 
disturbed their rest — what serious consultations 
were they which engaged the attention of these 
sea-beaten men ? Long before Cheap's Bay had 
been left, the body of a man had been found on a 
hill named '' Mount Misery." He was supposed 
to have been murdered by some of the first gang 
who left the island. The body had never been 
buried, and to such neglect did the men now 
ascribe the storms which had lately afflicted them ; 
nor would they rest until the remains of their 
comrade were placed beneath the earth, when each 
evidently felt as if some dreadful spell had been 
removed from his spirit.' Stories of this kind are 
common everywhere, and are interesting as showing 
how widely scattered is this piece of superstition. 

In Sweden the ravens, which scream by mid- 
night in forest swamps and wild moors, are held 


to be the ghosts of murdered men, whose bodies 
have been hidden in those spots by their undetected 
murderers, and not had Christian burial.^ In 
many a Danish legend the s-pint of a strand 
varsler, or coast-guard, appears, walking his beat 
as when alive. Such ghosts were not always 
friendly, and it was formerly considered dangerous 
to pass along ' such unconsecrated beaches, believed 
to be haunted by the spectres of unburied corpses 
of drowned people.' ^ 

The reason, it is asserted, why many of our 
old castles and country seats have their traditional 
ghost, is owing to some unfortunate person having 
been secretly murdered in days past, and to his 
or her body having been allowed to remain with- 
out the rites of burial. So long as such a crime 
is unavenged, and the bones continue unburied, 
it is impossible, we are told, for the outraged spirit 
to keep quiet. Numerous ghost stories are still 
circulated throughout the country of spirits wan- 
dering on this account, some of which, however, 
are based purely on legendary romance. 

* Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 126, note. 
' Thorpe's Northern Mythology, ii. p. 166. 


But when the unburied body could not be 
found, and the ghost wandered, the missing man 
was buried in effigy, for, as it has been observed, 
' according to all the laws of primitive logic, an 
effigy is every bit as good as its original. There- 
fore, w^hen a dead man is buried in effigy, with all 
due formality, that man is dead and buried beyond 
a doubt, and his ghost is as harmless as it is in 
the nature of ghosts to be.' But sometimes such 
burial by proxy was premature, for the man was 
not really dead; and if he declined to consider 
himself as such, the question arose, was he alive, 
or was he dead ? The solution adopted was that 
he might be born again and take a new lease of 
life. ' And so it was, be w^as put out to nurse, he 
was dressed in long clothes — in short, he went 
through all the stages of a second childhood. But 
before this pleasing experience could take place, he 
had to overcome the initial difficulty of entering 
his own house, for the door was ghost-proof. There 
was no other way but by the chimney, and down 
the chimney he came.' We may laugh at such 
credulity, but many of the ghost-beliefs of the 
present day are not less absurd. 





A VARIETY of causes Lave been su^Dposed to prevent 
the dead resting in the grave, for persons * dying 
with something on their mind,' to use the popular 
phrase, cannot enjoy the peace of the grave ; often- 
times some trivial anxiety, or some frustrated com- 
munication, preventing the uneasy spirit flinging 
off the bonds that bind it to earth. ; "Wickedness m 
their lifetime has been commonly thought to cause 
the souls of the im^Denitent to revisit the scenes 
where their evil deeds were done. It has long been 
a widespread idea that as such ghosts are too bad 
for a place in either world, they are, therefore, 
compelled to wander on the face of the earth 
homeless and forlorn. We have slrown in another- 
chapter how, according to a well-known supersti- 
tion, the ignes fatui, which appear by night in 


swcaii^py plapea»- arc the souls of the dead — men 
'\jJia--4tH4iig_liia were giiilty of ftaudul^nL and 
otb or wicked a cts. Thus a popular belief reminds 
us^ how, ^Yhen an unjust relative has secreted the 
title-deeds in order to get possession of the estate 
himself, he finds no rest in the other world till the 
title-deeds are given back, and the estate is restored 
to the rightful heir. Come must the spirit of such 
an unrighteous man to the room where he concealed 
the title-deeds surreptitiously removed from the 
custody of the person to whose charge they were 
entrusted. ' A dishonest milkwoman at Shrewsbury 
is condemned,' writes Miss Jackson in her ' Shrop- 
shire Folk-lore ' ^ (p. 120), 'to w'ander up and down 
"Lady Studley's Diche " in the Eaven Meadow — 
now the Smithfield — constantly repeating : 

" "Weight and measure sold I never, 
Milk and water sold I ever." ' 

The same rhyme is current at Burslem, in the 
Staffordshire Potteries. The story goes that ' Old 
Molly Lee,' who used to sell milk there, and had 
the reputation of being a witch, was supposed to be 

^ See Gregor's Folk-lore of North-East of Scotla7id, p. 68. 
- Edited by C. S. Burne. 

E 2 


seen after her death gomg about the streets with 
her milk-pail on her head repeating it. Miss 
Jackson further relates how a mid- Shropshire 
squire of long ago was compelled to wander about 
in a homeless state on account of his wickedness. 
Murderers cannot rest, and even although they 
may escape justice in this life, it is suj^posed that 
their souls find no peace in the grave, but under a 
curse are compelled to walk to and fro until they 
have, in some degree, done expiation for their crimes. 
Occasionally, it is said, their plaintive moans may 
be heard as they bewail the harm done by them to 
the innocent, weary of being allowed no cessation 
from their ceaseless wandering — a belief which re- 
minds us of the legend of the Wandering Jew, and 
the many similar stories that have clustered round it. 
In ' Blackwood's Magazine ' for August 1818 
this passage occurs : * If any author were so mad 
as to think of framing a tragedy upon the subject 
of that worthy vicar of Warblington, Hants, who 
was reported about a century ago to have strangled 
his own children, and to have walked after his death, 
he would assuredly be laughed to scorn by a London 
audience.' But a late rector of Warblington in- 


formed a correspondent of * Notes and Queries ' 
(4tli S. xi. 188), ' it was quite true that his house ^Yas 
said to be haunted by the ghost of a former rector, 
supposed to be the Eev. Sebastian Pitfield, ^Yho 
held the Hving in 1677.' A strong prejudice against 
hanging prevails in Wales, owing to troublesome 
spirits being let loose, and wandering about, to the 
annoyance of the living. 

The spirits of suicides wander, and hence cross- 
roads in various parts of the country are oftentimes 
avoided after dark, on account of being haunted 
by headless and other uncanny apparitions. The 
same belief exists abroad. The Sioux are of opinion 
that suicide is punished in the land of spirits by the 
ghosts being doomed for ever to drag the tree on 
which they hang themselves ; and for this reason 
thej^ always suspend themselves to as small a tree 
as can possibly sustain their weight. 

With the Chinese the souls of suicides are 
specially obnoxious, and they consider that the 
very worst penalty that can befall a soul is the 
sight of its former surroundings. Thus, it is sup- 
posed that, in the case of the wicked man, ' they 
onlv see their homes as if thev were near them : 


they see tlieir last wishes disregarded, everything 
upside down, their suhstance squandered, strangers 
possess the old estate ; in their misery the dead 
man's family curse him, his children become corrupt, 
land is gone, the wife sees her husband tortured, 
the husband sees his wife stricken down with 
mortal disease ; even friends forget, but some, per- 
haps, for the sake of b^'gone times, may stroke the 
coffin and let fall a tear, departing with a cold 
smile.' ^ But, as already noticed, the same idea, in 
a measure, extends to the West, for in this country 
it has long been a popular belief that the ghosts of 
the wicked are forced to periodically rehearse their 
sinful acts. Thus, the murderer's ghost is seen in 
vain trying to wash out the indelible blood- stains, 
and the thief is supposed to be continually counting 
and recounting the money which came into his 
possession through dishonest means. The ghost 
is dogged and confronted with the hideousness of 
his iniquities, and the young woman who slew her 
lover in a fit of jealous passion is seen, in an 
agonised expression, holding the fatal weapon. But 

* Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco, 1886, Essays in the 
Study of Folk-songs, p. 8. 


such unhappy spu^its have, m most cases, been put 
to silence by bemg laid, instances of which are 
given elsewhere ; and in other cases they have 
finally disappeared with the demolition of certain 
houses which for years they may have tenanted. 

On the other hand, the spirits of the good are 
said sometimes to return to earth for the purpose of 
either succouring the innocent, or avenging the guilty. 

' Those who come again to punish their friends' 
wrongs,' WTites Miss Jackson, in her 'Shropshire 
Folk-lore ' (p. 119), ' generally appear exactly as in 
life, unchanged in form or character. A certain 
well-to-do man w^ho lived in the west of Shropshire 
within living memory, left his landed property to 
his nephew, and a considerable fortune to his two 
illegitimate daughters, the children of his house- 
keeper. Their mother, well provided for, was at his 
death turned adrift by the nephew. Her daughters, 
however, continued to live in their old home with 
their cousin. A maid-servant who entered the 
family shortly after (and who is our informant) 
noticed an elderly man often walking in the 
garden in broad daylight, dressed in old-fashioned 
clothes, with breeches and white stockings. He 


never spoke, and never entered the house, though 
he always went towards it. Askmg wdio he was, 
she was coolly told, ''Oh, that is only our old father !" 
No annoyance seems to have been caused by the 
poor old ghost, with one exception, that the clothes 
were every night stripped off the bed of the two 
unnatural daughters.' 

German folk-lore tells how slain warriors rise 
again to help their comrades to victory, and how a 
mother wih visit her old home to look after her in- 
jured and forsaken children, and elsewhere the same 
idea is extensively believed. In China, the ghosts 
which are animated by a sense of duty are fre- 
quently seen : at one time they seek to serve virtue 
in distress, and at another they aim to restore 
wrongfully-held treasure. Indeed, as it has been 
observed, ' one of the most powerful as well as the 
most widely diffused of the people's ghost stories 
is that which treats of the persecuted child whose 
mother comes out of the grave to succour him.' ^ 
And there perhaps can be no more gracious privilege 
allotted to immortal spirits than that of beholding 
those beloved of them in mortal life : 

^ Study of Folk-songs, p. 2. 


I am still near, 
Watchiug the smiles I prized on earth, 
Your converse mild, j-oiir blameless mirth.' 

As it has been observed, no oblivious draught 
has been given the departed soul, but the re- 
membrance of its earthly doings cleaves to it, and 
this is why ghosts are always glad to see the places 
frequented by them while on earth. In Galicia, 
directly after a man's burial, his spirit takes to 
wandering by nights about the old home, and 
watching that no evil befalls his heirs. ^ 

Occasionally the spirit returns to fulfil a promise 
as in compacts, to vrhich reference is made in 
another chapter. The reappearance of a lover, ' in 
whose absence his beloved has died, is a subject 
that has been made use of by the folk-poets of 
every country, and nothing,' it is added, ' can be 
more characteristic of the nationalities to which 
they belong than the divergences which mark their 
treatment of it.^ Another cause of ghosts wander- 
ing is founded upon a superstition as to the inter- 

' Study of Folk-songs, p. 8. 

"^ Ealston's Songs of the Eussiari Pco]:le, p. 121. 

' Study of Folk-songs, p. 21. 


change of love-tokens, an illustration of which 
we find in the old ballad of ' William's Ghost ' : 

There came a ghost to Marjorie's door, 

"\Vi' many a grievous maen, 
And aye he tirl'd at the pin, 

But answer made she nane. 

' Oh, sweet Marjorie ! oh, dear Marjorie ! 

For faith and charitie, 
Give me my faith and troth again, 

That I gied once to thee.' 

' Thy faith and troth I'll ne'er gie thee. 

Nor yet shall our true love twin. 
Till you tak' me to your ain ha' house. 

And wed me wi' a ring.' 

' My house is but yon lonesome grave, 

Afar out o'er yon lee. 
And it is but my spirit, Marjorie, 

That's speaking unto thee.' ' 

She followed the spirit to the grave, where it 
lay down and confessed that William had betrayed 
three maidens whom he had promised to marry, 
and in consequence of this misdemeanour he could 
not rest in his grave until she released him of his 
vows to marry her. On learning this, Marjorie at 
once released him. 

' Folk-lore Record, 1879, ili. pp. Ill, 112, 


Then she'd taen up her white, white hand, 

And strucli him on the breist, 
Saying, ' Have ye again your faith and troth, 

And I wish your soul good rest.' 

In another ballad, * Clerk Sanders,' there is 
a 'further illustration of the same belief. The in- 
stances, says Mr. Napier, differ, but * the probability 
is that the ballad quoted above and '' Clerk Sanders " 
are both founded on the same story. Clerk Sanders 
was the son of an earl, who courted the king's 
daughter, Lady Margaret. They loved each other 
even in the modern sense of loving too well. 
Margaret had seven brothers, who suspected an 
intrigue, and they came upon them together in bed 
and killed Clerk Sanders, whose ghost soon after 
came to Margaret's window. The ballad, which 
contains much curious folk-lore, runs thus : 

' Oh ! are ye sleeping, Margaret ? ' he says, 

' Or are ye waking presentlie ? 
Give me my faith and troth again, 

I wot, true love, I gied to thee. 

' I canna rest, Margaret,' he says, 

* Down in the grave where I must be. 

Till ye give me my faith and troth again, 
I wot, true love, I gied to thee.' 

' Folk-lore Becord, 1879, iii. pp. Ill, 312. 


' Thy faith and troth thou shalt na get, 
And our true love shall never twin, 

Until ye tell what comes o' women, 
I wot, who die in strong travailing.' 

* Their beds are made in the heavens high, 
Down at the foot of our Lord's knee, 

Weel set about wi' gilliflowers, 
I trow sweet company for to see. 

' Oh, cocks are crowing a merry midnight, 
I wot the wild fowls are boding day ; 

The psalms of heaven will soon be sung, 
And I, ere now, will be missed away.' 

Then she has ta'en a crystall wand, 

And she has stroken her throth thereon ; 

She has given it him out of the shot-window, 
\Yi' many a sigh and heavy goan. 

' I thank je, Margaret ; I thank ye, Margaret 
And aye, I thank ye heartilie ; 

Gin ever the dead come for the quick, 
Be sure, Margaret, I'll come for thee.' 

Then up and crew the milk-white cock. 
And up and crew the gray ; 

Her lover vanished in the air, 
And she gaed weeping away. 


Madness, again, during life, is said occasionally 
to prod uce re stlessness after death. * Parson 
Digger, at Condover,' remarked an old woman to 
Miss Jackson,^ *he came again. He wasn't right 
in his head, and if you met him he couldn't speak 
to you sensibly. But when he was up in the pulpit 
he'd preach, oh ! beautiful ! ' In Hungary, there 
are the spirits of brides who die on their wedding- 
day before consummation of marriage. They are 
to be seen at moonlight, where cross-roads meet. 
And it is a Danish tradition that a corpse cannot 
have peace in the grave when it is otherwise than 
on itsjback. According to a Scotch belief, exces- 
Biye_ grief for a departed friend, ' combined with a 
want of resignation to the will of Providence, had 
the effect of keeping the spirit from rest in the 
other world. Eest could be obtained only by the 
spirit coming back, and comforting the mourner by 
the assurance that it was in a state of blessedness.' ^ 
The ghosts of those, again, who had some grievance 
or otlier in life are supposed to wander. The 
Droitwich Canal, in passing through Salwarpe, 

^ Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 119. 

2 Gregor's Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland, p. 69. 


Worcestershire, is said to have cut off a slice of a 
large old half-timbered house, in revenge for which 
act of mutilation, the ghost of a former occupier 
revisited his old haunts, and affrighted the do- 

Once more, according to another Animistic 
conception which holds a prominent place in the 
religion of uncultured tribes, the soul at death 
passes through some transitionary stages, finally 
developing into a demon. In China and India 
this theory is deeply rooted among the people, 
and hence it is customary to offer sacrifices to 
the souls of the departed by way of propitiation, 
as otherwise they are supposed to wander to 
and fro on the earth, and to exert a malignant 
influence on even their dearest friends and relatives. 
Diseases, too, are regarded as often being caused 
by the wandering souls of discontented relatives, 
who in some cases are said to re-appear as 
venomous snakes.^ Owing to this belief, a system 
of terror prevails amongst many tribes, which is 
only allayed by constantly appeasing departed 
souls. Believing in suj)erstitions of this kind, 

' Sir John Lubbock's Origin of Civilisation, p. 134. 


Till the crime has been duly expiated, not only 
is the spirit supposed to be kept from its desired 
rest, but it flits about the haunts of the living, that, 
by its unearthly molestation, it may compel them 
to make every possible reparation for the cruel 
wrong done. Any attempt to lay such a ghost is 
ineffectual, and no exorcist's art can induce it 
to discontinue its unwelcome visits. Comparative 
folk-lore proves how universal is this belief, for one 
of the most popular ghost stories in folk-tales is 
that which treats of the murdered person whose 
ghost hovers about the earth with no gratification 
but to terrify the living. 

The Chinese have a dread of the wandering 
spirits of persons who have come to an unfortunate 
end. At Canton, in 1817, the wife of an officer of 
Government had occasioned the death of two female 
domestic slaves, from some jealous suspicion it was 
supposed of her husband's conduct towards the 
girls ; and, in order to screen herself from the conse- 
quences, she suspended the bodies by the neck, with 
a view to its being construed into an act of suicide. 
But the conscience of the woman tormented her to 
such a degree that she became insane, and at times 


personated the victims of her cruelty; or, as the 
Chinese supposed, the spirits of the murdered girls 
possessed her, and utilised her mouth to declare 
her own guilt. In her ravings she tore her clothes, 
and beat her own person with all the fury of mad- 
ness ; after which she would recover her senses for 
a time, when it was supposed the demons quitted 
her, but only to return with greater frenzy, w^hich 
took place a short time previous to her death.^ Ac- 
cording to Mr. Dennys,^ the most common form of 
Chinese ghost story is that wherein the ghost seeks 
to bring to justice the murderer who shuffled off its 
mortal coil. 

The following tale is told of a haunted hill in the 
country of the Assiniboins. Many summers ago a 
party of Assiniboins pounced on a small band of 
Crees in the neighbourhood of Wolverine KnolL 
Among the victors was the former wife of one of 
the vanquished, who had been previously captured 
by her present husband. This woman directed 
every effort in the fight to take the life of her first 
husband, but he escaped, and concealed himself on 

1 The Chinese : J. F. Davis, 1836, ii. pp. 139, 140. 

2 Folk-lore of China, p. 73. 


this knoll. Wolverine — for this was his name — fell 
asleep, and was discovered by this virago, who 
killed him, and presented his scalp to her Assini- 
boin husband. The knoll was afterwards called 
after him. The Indians assert that the ghosts of the 
murderess and her victim are often to be seen from 
a considerable distance struggling together on the 
very summit of the height.^ 

The Siamese ' fear as unkindly spirits the souls 
of such as died a violent death, or were not buried 
with the proper rites, and who, desiring expiation, 
invisibly terrify their descendants.' ^ In the same 
way, the Karens say that the ghosts of those who 
wander on the earth are the spirits of such as died 
by violence ; and in Australia we hear of the souls 
of departed natives walking about because their 
death has not been expiated by the avenger of blood. 

The Hurons of America, lest the spirits of the 
victims of their torture should remain around the 
huts of their murderers from a thirst of vengeance, 
strike every place with a staff in order to oblige 
them to depart. An old traveller mentions the same 

' See Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, p. 304. 
^ Priviitive Culture, ii. p. 28. 

F 2 


custom among the Iroquois : ' At night we heard 
a great noise, as if the houses had all fallen ; but it 
Avas only the inhabitants driving away the ghosts 
of the murdered ; ' with which we may compare the 
belief of the Ottawas : On one occasion, when noises 
of the loudest and most inharmonious kind w^ere 
heard in a certain village, it w^as ascertained that a 
battle had been lately fought between the Ottawas 
and Kickapods, and that the object of all this noise 
was to prevent the ghosts of the dead combatants 
from entering the village.^ 

European folk-lore still clings to this old belief, 
and, according to the current opinion in Norway,^ 
the soul of a murdered person willingly hovers 
around the spot where his body is buried, and 
makes its appearance for the purpose of calling 
forth vengeance on the murderer. 

The idea that, in cases of hidden murder, the 
buried dead cannot rest in their graves is often 
spoken in our old ballad folk-lore. Thus, in the 
ba'lad of the 'Jew's Daughter,' in Motherwell's 
collection, a youth was murdered, and his body 

' See Doi-man's Primitive Superstitions, 1880, pp. 19, 20i 
2 Thorpe's Northern Mythology, ii, p. 19. 


thrown into a draw-well, and he speaks to his 
mother from the well : 

She ran away to the deep draw-well, 

And she fell down on her knee, 
Saying, ' Bonnie Sir Hugh, oh, pretty Sir Hugh, 

I pray ye, speak to me ! ' 
' Oh ! the lead it is wondrous heavy, mother, 

The well, it is wondrous deep. 
The little penknife sticks in my throat. 

And I downa to ye speak. 
But lift me out of this deep draw-well, 

And bury me in yon churchyard ; 
Put a Bible at my head,' he says, 

' And a Testament at my feet. 
And pen and ink at every side. 

And I will lay still and sleep. 
And go to the back of Maitland town, 

Bring me my winding sheet ; 
For it's at the back of Maitland town 

That you and I shall meet.' 

The eye of superstition, we are told, sees such 
ghosts sometimes as white spectres in the church- 
yard, where they stop horses, terrify people, and 
make a disturbance ; and occasionally as executed 
criminals, who, in the moonlight, wander round the 
place of execution, with their heads under their arms. 
At times they are said to pinch persons while 


asleep both black and blue, such spots bemg 
designated ghost -spots, or ghost-pinches. It is 
also supposed in some parts of Norway that certain 
spirits cry like children, and entice people to them, 
such being thought to derive their origin from 
\ murdered infants. A similar belief exists in 
Sweden, where the spirits of little children that 
have been mm^dered are said to wander about 
wailing, within an assigned time, so long as their 
lives would have lasted on earth, had they been 
allowed to live. As a terror for unnatural mothers 
who destroy their offspring, their sad cry is said to 
be * Mama ! Mama ! ' If travellers at night pass 
by them, they will hang on the vehicle, when the 
most spirited horses will sweat as if they were 
dragging too heavy a load, and at length come 
to a dead stop. The peasant then knows that 
a ghost or pysling has attached itself to his 

The nautical ghost is often a malevolent spirit, as 
in Shelley's ' Eevolt of Islam ' ; and Captain Marryat 
tells a sailor story of a murdered man's ghost appear- 
ing every night, and caUing hands to witness a 

* Thorpe's Northern Mythologrj, ii. pp. 94, 95. 


piratical scene of murder, formerly committed on 
board the shi^D in ^Ybich he appeared. A celebrated 
ghost is that of the ' Shrieking Woman,' long sup- 
posed to haunt the shores of Oakum Bay, near 
Marblehead. She was a Spanish lady murdered by 
pirates m the eighteenth century, and the apparition 
is thus described by Whittier in his 'Legends of 
New England ' : 

'Tis said that often vdien the Dioon, 

Is struggling with the gloomy even, 
And over moon and star is drawn 

The cm-tain of a clouded heaven, 
Strange sounds swell up the narrow glen, 

As if that robber crew was there ; 
The hellish laugh, the shouts of men 

And woman's dying prayer. 

Many West Indian quays were thought to be the 
haunts of ghosts of murdered men ; and Sir Walter 
Scott tells how the Buccaneers occasionally killed 
a Spaniard or a slave, and buried him with their 
spirits, under the impression that his ghost would 
haunt the spot, and keep away treasure hunters. 
He quotes another incident of a captain who killed 
a man in a fit of anger, and, on his threatening to 
haunt him, he cooked his body in the stove kettle. 


The crew believed that the murdered man took his 
place at the wheel, and on the yards. The captain, 
troubled by his conscience and the man's ghost, 
finally jumped overboard, when, as he sank, he 
threw^ up his arms and exclaimed, 'Bill is with 
me now ! ' 

In most parts of the world similar tales are 
recorded, and are as readily believed as when they 
were first told centuries ago. A certain island on 
the Japanese coast is traditionally haunted by the 
ghosts of Japanese slain in a naval battle. Even 
* to-day the Chousen peasant fancies he sees the 
ghostly armies baling out the sea with bottomless 
dippers, condemned thus to cleanse the ocean of 
the slain of centuries ago.' ^ According to an old 
Chinese legend the ghost of a captain of a man-of- 
war junk, w^ho had been murdered, reappeared and 
directed how the ship was to be steered to avoid a 
nest of pirates.'^ 

In this country, many an old mansion has its 
haunted room, in which the unhappy spirit of the 

* Griffis, The Mikado's Kingdom. 

- Denny's Folk-lore of China ; see Bassett's Legends and 
Superstitions of the Sea, p. 296. 


murdered person is supposed, on certain occasions, 
to appear. Generation after generation do such 
troubled spirits return to the scene of their life, and 
persistently wait till some one is bold enough to 
stay in the haunted room, and to question them as 
to the cause of their making such periodical visits. 
Accordingly, ^Yhen a murder has been committed 
and not discovered, often, it is said, has the spirit 
of the murdered one continued to come back and 
torment the neighbourhood till a confession of the 
crime has been made, and justice satisfied. Mr. 
Walter Gregor,^ detailing instances in Scotland of 
haunted houses, tells how ' in one room a lady had 
been murdered, and her body buried in a vault 
below it. Her spirit could find no rest till she had 
told who the murderer was, and pointed out where 
the body lay. In another, a baby heir had its 
little life stifled by the hand of an assassin hired 
by the next heir. The estate was obtained, but the 
deed followed the villain beyond the grave, and his 
spirit could find no peace. Night by night the ghost 
had to return at the hour of midnight to the room in 
which the murder was committed, and in agony 
^ Folk-lore of Korth-East of Scotland, 1881, p. 68. 


jj spend in it the hours till cock-crowing, when every- 
\ thing of the supernatural had to disappear.' 

The ghost of Lady Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, 
who always appears in white, carrying her child in 
her arms, has long been, as Mr. Ingram says,^ ' an 
enduring monument of the bloodthirsty spirit of 
the age in which she lived.' Whilst her husband 
was away from home, a favourite of the Eegeu' 
Murray seized his house, turned his wife, on . 
cold night, naked, into the open fields, where, before 
morning, she was found raving mad; her infant 
perishing either by cold or murder. The ruins of 
the mansion of Woodhouslee, * whence Lady Both- 
well was expelled in the brutal manner which oc- 
casioned her insanity and death,' have long been 
tenanted with the unfortunate lady's ghost ; ' and 
so tenacious is this spectre of its rights, that a part 
of the stones belonging to the ancient edifice having 
been employed in building or repairing the new 
Woodhouslee, the apparition has deemed it one of 
her privileges to haunt that house also.' 

Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire, has its ghosts ; 
and it is said that ' on certain clear still evenings a 

» Haunted Homes of England, 1884, p. 286. 


lady in white can be seen passing along the gallery 
and the corridors, and then from the hall into the 
grounds ; then she meets a handsome knight who 
receives her on bended knees, and he then ac- 
companies her along the walks. On arriving at a 
certain spot, most probably the lover's grave, both 
the phantoms stand still, and, as they seem to utter 
lost wailings of despair, they embrace each other, 
and then melt away into the clear blue of the sur- 
rounding sky.' The story goes that one of the 
daughters of Sir John Southworth, a former owner, 
formed an attachment with the heir of a neighbour- 
ing house ; but when Sir John said ' no daughter 
of his should ever be united to the son of a family 
which had deserted its ancestral faith,' an elope- 
ment was arranged. The day and place were 
overheard by the lady's brother, and, on the even- 
ing agreed upon, he rushed from his hiding-place 
and slew her lover. But soon afterwards her mind 
gave way, and she died a raving maniac.^ 

Mrs. Murray, a lady born and brought up in 
the borders, writes Mr. Henderson,^ tells me of ' a 

^ Kauntecl Homes of Etigland, 2ncl S., pp. 222-225. 
' Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 267. 


cauld lad,' of whom she heard in her childhood 

during a visit to Gilsland, in Cumberland. He 

perished from cold, at the behest of some cruel 

uncle or stepdame, and ever after his ghost haunted 

the family, coming shivering to their bedsides 

before anyone was stricken by illness, his teeth 

audibly chattering ; and if it were to be fatal, he 

laid his icy hand upon the part which would be 

the seat of the disease, saying : 

Cauld, cauld, aye cauld ! 

An' ye see he cauld for evermair. 

St. Donart's Castle, on the southern coast of 
Glamorganshire, has its favourite ghost, that of 
Lady Stradling, who is said to have been murdered 
by one of her family. It appears, writes the late 
Mr. Wirt Sikes,^ ' when any mishap is about to be- 
fall a member of the house of Stradling, the direct 
line, however, of which is extinct. She wears high- 
heeled shoes, and a long trailing gown of the finest 
silk.' While she wanders, the castle hounds refuse 
to rest, but with their howling raise all the dogs in 
the neighbourhood. The Little Shelsey people 
long preserved a tradition that the court-house in 

» British Goblins, pp. 143, 144. 


that parish was haunted by the spirit of a Lady 
Lightfoot, who was said to have been imprisoned 
and murdered ; ^ and Cumnor Hall has acquired a 
romantic interest from the poetic glamour flung 
over it by Mickle in his ballad of Cumnor Hall, and 
by Sir Walter Scott in his * Kenilworth.' Both refer 
to it as the scene of Amy Eobsart's murder, and 
although the jury agreed to accept her death as 
accidental, the country folk would not forego their 
idea that it was the result of foul play. Ever 
since the fatal event it was asserted that ' Madam 
Dudley's ghost did use to walk in Cumnor Park, and 
that it walked so obstinately, that it took no less 
than nine parsons from Oxford to lay her.' Accord- 
ing to Mickle — 

The village maids, with fearful glance, 
Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall ; 

Nor ever lead the merry dance 

Among the groves of Cumnor Hall. 

About half a mile to the east of Maxton, a small 
rivulet runs across the old turnpike road, at a spot 
called Bow- brig- syke. Near this bridge is a tri- 
angular field, in which for nearly a century it was 

* Gentleman's Magazine, 1855, part ii. p. 58; 


averred that the forms of two ladies, dressed m 
white, might be seen pacing up and down, walking 
over precisely the same spot of ground till morning 
light. But one day, wiiile some workmen were 
repairing the road, they took up the large flagstones 
upon which foot-passengers crossed the burn, and 
found beneath them the skeletons of two women 
lying side by side. After this discovery the Bow- 
brig ladies, as they were called, were never again 
seen to w^alk in the three-corner field. The story 
goes that these two ladies were sisters to a former 
laird of Littledean, who is said to have killed them 
in a fit of passion, because they interfered to pro- 
tect from ill-usage a young lady whom he had met 
at Bow-brig-syke. Some years later he met wdth 
his own death near the same fatal spot.^ 

Mr. SulHvan, in his * Cumberland and West- 
moreland,' relates how, some years ago, a spectre 
appeared to a man w^ho lived at Henhow Cottage, 
Martindale. Starting for his work at an early 
hour one morning, he had not gone two hundred 
yards from his house when his dog gave signs of 
alarm, and, on looking round, he saw a woman 

' See Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, pp. 324-325. 


carrying a child in her arms. On being questioned 
as to what was troubling her, the ghost replied that 
she had been seduced, and that her seducer, to 
conceal his guilt and her frailty, had given her 
medicine, the effect of which was to kill both mother 
and child. Her doom was to wander for a hundred 
years, forty of which had expired. The occurrence 
is believed to have made a lasting impression on 
the old man, who, says Sullivan, ' was until lately 
a shepherd on the fells. There can be no moral 
doubt that he both saw and spoke with the appa- 
rition ; but what share his imagination had therein, 
or how it had been excited, are mysteries, and so 
they are likely to remain.' But as Grose remarks, 
ghosts do not go about their business like living 
beings. In cases of murder, ' a ghost, instead of 
going to the next justice of the peace and laying 
its information, or to the nearest relation of the 
person murdered, it appears to some poor labourer 
who knows none of the parties, draws the curtains 
of some decrepit nurse or alms-woman, or hovers 
about the place where his body is deposited.' The 
same circuitous mode, he adds, 'is pursued with 
respect to redressing injured orphans or widows, 


when it seems as if the shorter and more certain 
would be to go to the person guilty of the injustice, 
and haunt him continually till he be terrified into 
a restitution.' 

From early days the phantoms of the murdered 
have occasionally aj^peared to the living, and made 
known the guilty person or persons who committed 
the deed. Thus Cicero relates how * two Arcadians 
came to Megara together ; one lodged at a friend's 
house, the other at an inn. During the night, the 
latter appeared to his fellow-traveller, imploring 
his help, as the innkeeper was plotting his death ; 
the sleeper sprang up in alarm, but thinking the 
vision of no importance, he went to sleep again. 
A second time his companion a23peared to him, 
to entreat that, though he had failed to help, he 
would at least avenge, for the innkeeper had killed 
him, and hidden his body in a dung-cart, where- 
fore he charged his fellow-traveller to be early next 
morning at the city gate before the cart passed out. 
The traveller went as bidden, and there found the 
cart ; the body of the murdered man was in it, and 
the innkeeper was brought to justice.' ^ 

* Quoted in Tylor's Pri)nitivB Culture, i. p. 444. 


Of the many curious cases recorded of a murder 
being discovered through the ghost of the murdered 
person, may be quoted one told in Aubrey's ' Mis- 
cellanies.' It appears that on Monday, April 14, 
1690, William Barwick was walking with his wife 
close to Cawood Castle, when, from motives not 
divulged at the trial, he determined to murder her, 
and finding a pond conveniently at hand, threw her 
in. But on the following Tuesday, as his brother- 
in-law, Thomas Lofihouse, ' about half an hour 
after twelve of the clock in the daytime, was water- 
ing quickwood, as he was going for the second 
pail, there appeared walking before him an appari- 
tion in the shape of a woman, *' her visage being 
like his wife's sister's." Soon after, she sat down 
over against the pond, on a green hill. He walked 
by her as he went to the pond, and, on his return, 
he observed that she was dangling " something like 
a white bag " on her lap, evidently suggestive of her 
unborn baby that was slain with her. The cir- 
cumstance made such an impression on him, that 
he immediately suspected Barwick, especially as he 
had made false statements as to the whereabouts 
of his wife, and obtained a warrant for his arrest. 



The culprit when arrested confessed his crime, and 
the body of the murdered woman being recovered, 
was found dressed in clothing similar, apparently, 
to that worn by the apparition. Ultimately Bar- 
wick was hanged for his crime.' ^ 

A similar case, which occurred in the county of 
Durham in 1631, and is the subject of a critical 
historical inquiry in Surtees's * History of Durham,' 
may be briefly summed up.^ * One Walker, a yeo- 
man of good estate, a widower, living at Chester-le- 
Street, had in his service a young female relative 
named Anne Walker. The results of an amour 
which took place between them caused Walker 
to send away the girl under the care of one 
Mark Sharp, a collier, professedly that she might 
be taken care of as befitted her condition, but in 
reahty that she might no more be troublesome to 
her lover. Nothing was heard of her till, one night 
in the ensuing winter, one James Graham, coming 
down from the upper to the lower floor of his mill, 
found a woman standing there with her hair hang- 
ing about her head, in which were five bloody 
wounds. According to the man's evidence, she 

• See Ingrain's Haunted Homes, 1884, pp. 33-36. 

2 See Book of Days, ii. p. 287. 


gave an account of her fate ; having been killed by 
Sharp on the moor in their journey, and thrown 
into a coal pit close by, while the instrument of her 
death, a pick, had been hid under a bank along 
with his clothes, which were stained with her blood. 
She demanded of Graham that he should expose 
her murder, which he hesitated to do, until she 
had twice reappeared to him, the last time with a 
threatening aspect. 

* The body, the pick, and the clothes having been 
found as Graham had described, Walter and Sharp 
were tried at Durham, before Judge Daven^Dort, in 
August 1631. The men were found guilty, con- 
demned, and executed.' 

In * Ackerman's Kepository ' for November 
1820, there is an account of a person being tried 
on the pretended evidence of a ghost. A farmer, 
on his return from the market at Southam, co. 
Warwick, was murdered. The next morning a 
man called upon the farmer's wife, and related 
how on the previous night her husband's ghost 
had appeared to him, and, after showing him 
several stabs on his body, had told him that he 
was murdered by a certain person, and his corpse 

G 2 


throwai into a marl-pit. A search ^vas instituted, 
the body found in the pit, and the wounds on the 
body of the deceased ^Yerc exactly in the parts 
described by the pretended dreamer ; the person 
who was mentioned was committed for trial on 
the charge of murder, and the trial came on 
at "Warwick before Lord Chief Justice Eaymond. 
The jury would have convicted the prisoner as 
rashly as the magistrate had committed him, but 
for the interposition of the judge, who told them 
he did not put any credence in the pretended ghost 
story, since the prisoner was a man of unblemished 
reputation, and no ill-feeling had ever existed 
between himself and the deceased. He added that 
he knew of no law which admitted of the evidence 
of a ghost, and, if any did, the ghost had not 
appeared. The crier was then ordered to summon 
the ghost, which he did three times, and the judge 
then acquitted the prisoner, and caused the accuser 
to be detained and his house searched, when such 
strong proofs of guilt were discovered, that the man 
confessed the crime, and was executed for murder 
at the following assizes. 




One of the forms which the soul is said occasion- 
ally to assume at death is that of a bird — a pretty 
belief which, under one form or another, exists all 
over the world. An early legend tells how, when 
St. Polycarp was burnt alive, there arose from his 
ashes a white dove which flew towards heaven ; 
and a similar story is told of Joan of Arc. The 
Eussian peasantry affirm that the souls of the 
departed haunt their old homes in the shape of 
birds for six weeks, and watch the grief of the 
bereft, after which time they fly away to the other 
world. In certain districts bread-crumbs are 
placed on a piece of white linen at a window 
during those six weeks, when the soul is believed to 
come and feed upon them in the form of a bird. 
It is generally into pigeons or crows that the dead 


are transformed. Thus, ^Yllen the Deacon Theodore 
and his three schismatic brethren were burnt in 
the year 1682, writes Mr. Ealston,^ 'the souls of 
the martyrs appeared in the air as pigeons.' In 
Volhynia dead children are believed to conie back 
in the spring to their native village under the 
semblance of swallows and other small birds, 
endeavouring, by soft twittering or song, to console 
their sorrowing parents. The Bulgarians say that 
after death the soul assumes the form of a bird ; 
and according to an old Bohemian fancy the soul 
flies out of the dying in a similar shape. In the 
* Chronicles of the Beatified Anthony ' ^ we find 
described fetid and black pools ' in regione Puteo- 
lorum in Apulia,' whence the souls arise in the 
form of monstrous birds in the evening hours of 
the Sabbath, which neither eat nor let themselves 
be caught, but wander till in the morning an 
enormous lion compels them to submerge them- 
selves in the water. 

It is a German belief that the soul of one who 

' Songs of the B2issia7i People, p. 118. 

- Quoted by Gubernatis, Zoological Mytliology^ 1872, ii. pp. 254, 


has died on shipboard passes into a bird, and when 
seen at any time it is supposed to announce the 
death of another person. The ghost of the 
murdered mother comes swimming in the form of 
a duck, or the soul sits in the likeness of a bird on 
the grave. This piece of folk-lore has been intro- 
duced into many of the popular folk-tales, as in 
the well-known story of the juniper tree. A little 
boy is killed by his step -mother, who serves him 
up as a dish of meat to his father. The father 
eats in ignorance, and throws away the bones, which 
are gathered up by the half-sister, who puts them 
into a silk handkerchief and buries them under a 
juniper tree. But presently a bird of gay plumage 
perches on the tree, and whistles as it flits from 
branch to branch : 

Min moder de mi slach't, 

Min fader de mi att, 

Min swester de Marleenken, 

Socht alle mine Beeniken, 

Und bindt sie in een syden Dodk, 

Legst unner den Machandelboom ; 

Ky witt ! ky witt ! Ach watt en selion vogel bin icli ! 

— a rhyme which Goethe puts into the mouth of 


Gretchen in prison.^ In Grimm's story of * The 
White and the Black Bride,' the mother and sister 
push the true bride into the stream. At the same 
moment a snow-^Yhite swan is discovered swimming 
down the stream. 

Swedish folk-lore tells us that the ravens which 
scream by night in forest swamps and wild moors 
are the ghosts of murdered men w^hose bodies have 
been hidden by their undetected murderers, and 
not had Christian burial. In Denmark the night- 
raven is considered an exorcised spirit, and there 
is said to be a hole in its left wing caused by the 
stake driven into the earth. Where a spirit has 
been exorcised, it is only through the most fright- 
ful swamps and morasses that it ascends, first 
beginning under the earth with the cry of 'Eok ! rok ! ' 
then ' Eok op ! rok op ! ' and when it has thus come 
forth, it flies away screaming ' Hei ! hei ! he ! — i ! ' 
When it has flown up it describes a cross, but one 
must take care, it is said, not to look up when the 
bird is flying overhead, for he w^ho sees through 
the hole in its wing will become a night-raven him- 

' Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco, Study of Folk-soiigs 
p. 10 ; Thorpe's Northern Mythology, i. p. 289. 


self, and the night-raven will be released. This 
ominous bird is ever flying towards the east, in the 
hope of reaching the Holy Sepulchre, for when it 
arrives there it will find rest.^ Then there is the 
romantic Breton ballad of 'Lord Nann and the 
Korrigan,' wherein it is related how — 

It was a marvel to see, mea say, 
The night that followed the day, 
The ledy in earth by her lord lay, 

To see two oak trees themselves rear, 
From the new made grave into the air ; 

And on their branches two doves white, 
"Who there were hopping, gay and light, 

Which sang when rose the morning ray. 
And then towards heaven sped away. 

In Mexico it is a popular belief that after death 
the souls of nobles animate beautiful singing birds, 
and certain North American Indian tribes maintain 
that the souls of their chiefs take the form of 
small woodbirds.^ Among the Abipones of Para- 
guay we are told of a peculiar kind of little ducks 

' Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 126 ; Thorpe's 
2<!orthern Mythologij, ii. p. 211. 

2 gge Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, pp. 48, 49. 


which fly in flocks at night-time., uttering a mourn- 
ful tone, and which the poi3ular imagination associ- 
ates with the souls of those who have died. Darwin 
mentions a South American Indian who would not 
eat land-birds because they were dead men ; and 
the Californian tribes abstain from large game, 
believing that the souls of past generations have 
passed into their bodies. The l9annas of Brazil 
thought the souls of brave warriors passed into 
lovely birds that fed on pleasant fruits ; and the 
Tapuyas think the souls of the good and the brave 
enter birds, while the cowardly become reptiles. 
Indeed, the primitive psychology of such rude tribes 
reminds us how the spirit freed at death — 

Fills with fi'esli energy another form, 
And towers an elephant, or glides a worm ; 
Swims as an eagle in the eye of noon, 
Or wails a screech-owl to the deaf cold moon. 

It was also a belief of the Aztecs that all good 
people, as a reward of merit, were metamorphosed 
at the close of life into feathered songsters of the 
grove, and in this form passed a certain term in 
the umbrageous bowers of Paradise ; while certain 
African tribes think that the souls of wicked men 


become jackals. The Brazials imagined that the 
souls of the bad animated those birds that inhabited 
the cavern of Guacharo and made a mournful cry, 
which birds were religiously feared. 

Tracing similar beliefs in our own country, may 
be compared the Lancashire dread of the so-called 
* Seven Whistlers,' which are occasionally heard at 
night, and are supposed to contain the souls of 
those Jews who assisted at the Crucifixion, and in 
consequence of their wickedness were doomed to 
float for ever in the air. Numerous stories have 
been told, from time to time, of the appearance of 
these ' Seven Whistlers,' and of their being heard 
before some terrible catastrophe, such as a colliery 
explosion. A correspondent of ' Notes and 
Queries ' relates how during a thunderstorm which 
passed over Kettering, in Yorkshire, on the evening 
of September 6, 1871, *on which occasion the 
lightning was very vivid, an unusual spectacle was 
witnessed. Immense flocks of birds were flying 
about, uttering doleful affrighted cries as they 
passed over the locality, and for hours they kept up 
a continual whistling like that made by sea-birds. 
There must have been great numbers of them, as 


they were also observed at the same time in the 
comities of Northampton, Leicester, and Lincoln. 
The next day, as my servant was driving me to a 
neighbouring village, this phenomenon of the flight 
of birds became the subject of conversation, and on 
asking him what birds he thought they were, he 
told me they were what were called the " Seven 
Whistlers," and that whenever they were heard it 
was considered a sign of some great calamity, and 
that the last time he heard them was the night 
before the great Hartley Colliery explosion. He had 
also been told by soldiers, that if they heard them 
they always expected a great slaughter would take 
place soon. Curiously enough, on taking up the 
newspaper the following morning, I saw headed 
in large letters, *' Terrible Colhery Explosion at 
Wigan," &c.' Wordsworth speaks of the ' Seven 
Whistlers ' in connection with the spectral hounds 
of the wild huntsman : 

He the seven birds hath seen that never part — 
Seen the seven whistlers on their nightly rounds, 

And counted them. And oftentimes will start, 
For overhead are sweeping Gabriel's hounds, 

Doomed, with their impious lord, the flying hart 
To chase for ever on aerial grounds. 


A similar tradition prevails on the Bospliorus with 
reference to certain flocks of birds, about the size 
of a thrush, ^Yhich fly ujd and down the Channel, 
and are never seen to rest on the land or water. 
These are supposed to be the souls of the damned, 
and condemned to perpetual motion. Among 
further instances of the same belief may be men- 
tioned one current among the Manx herring 
fishermen, who, from time immemorial, have been 
afraid of going to sea without a dead wTen, for fear 
of disasters and storms. The story goes that once 
upon a time ' a sea spirit hunted the herring 
track, always attended by storms, but at last 
assumed the form of a wren, and flew away.' 
Accordingly they believe that so long as they have 
a dead wren with them all is snug and safe. 
Similarly, in the English Channel a rustling, 
rushing sound is occasionally heard on the dark 
still nights of winter, and is called the herring 
spear, or herring piece, by the fishermen of Dover 
and Folkestone. But this strange sound is really 
caused by the flight of the little redwings as they 
cross the Channel on their way to warmer regions. 
Stories of disembodied souls appearing as birds 


are very numerous. An old well-known Cornish 
legend tells how, in days of old, King Arthur was 
transformed into a chough, ' its talons and beak all 
red with blood,' denoting the violent end to which 
the celebrated chieftain came. In the same way 
a curious legend in Poland affirms that every 
member of the Herburt family assumes the form 
of an eagle after death, and that the eldest 
daughters of the Pileck line take the shape of 
doves if they die unmarried, of owls if they die 
married, and that they give previous notice of their 
death to every member of their race by pecking a 
finger of each. A wild song sung by the boatmen 
of the Molo, Venice, declares that the spirit of 
Daniel Manin, the patriot, is flying about the 
lagunes to this day in the shape of a beautiful 
white dove.^ There is the ancient Irish tradition 
that the first father and mother of mankind exist 
as eagles in the island of Innis Bofin, at the mouth 
of Killery Bay, in Galway; indeed, survivals of 
this old belief occur under all manner of forms. 
There is the popular legend of the owl and the 
baker's daughter which Shakespeare has immor- 
' Jones' Credulities, Past and Present, p. 376. 


talised in ' Hamlet ' (iv. 5) , where Ophelia exclaims, 
* They say the owl was a baker's daughter ; Lord, 
w^e know what we are, but know not what w^e may 
be.' ^ Gervase of Tilbury tells how the stork was 
formerly regarded as both bird and man, on ac- 
count of which superstition it is carefully protected 
in Prussia from any kind of injury. The stork, 
too, is still held in superstitious dread by the 
Chinese, who, on the twenty-first day of the period 
of mourning for the dead, place three large paper 
birds resembling storks on high poles in front of 
the house of mourning. The birds are supposed 
to carry the soul of the deceased person to Elysium, 
and during the next three days the Buddhist prays 
to the ten kings of the Buddhist Hades, calling on 
them to hasten the flight of the departed soul to 
the Western Paradise.^ The Virginian Indians had 
great reverence for a small bird called Pawcorance, 
that flies in the w^oods, and in its note continually 
sounds that name. This bird flies alone, and is 
heard only in twilight. It is said to be the son of 
one of their priests, and on this account they 

> See Dasent's Tales of the Norse, 1859, p. 230. 
- Jones' Credulities, Past and Present, p. 373. 


would not hurt it ; but there was once a profane 
Indian who was hired to shoot one of them, but 
report says he paid dearly for his act of presump- 
tion, for a few days afterwards he disappeared, and 
was never heard of again. ^ The Indians dwelling 
about the Falls of St. Anthony supposed that the 
spirits of their dead warriors animated the eagles 
which frequented the place, and these eagles were 
objects of their worship. In the ' Ssemund Edda' 
it is said that in the nether world souls as singed 
birds fly about like swarms of flies — 

Of that is to be told 

What I just observed, 

"When I had come into the land of torment : 

Singed birds, 

That had been souls, 

Flew as many as gnats. 

The Finns and the Lithuanians speak of the 
* Milky "Way ' as the Bird's Way — the way of 
souls. According to Kuhn, the notion of the soul 
assuming the form of a bird is closely dlied with 
the primitive tradition of birds as soul-bringers. 
Thus, as it has been suggested, ' the soul and the 

» Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, pp. 255, 256. 

pnAXTo:\r birds 97 

bird that brought it down to earth niay have been 
supposed to become one, and to enter and quit the 
body together.' In the Egyptian hieroglyphics a 
bird signified the soul of man ; and the German 
name for stork, ^Yrites Grimm, is literally child, or 
soul-bringer. Hence the belief that the advent of 
infants is presided over by this bird, which obtains 
so wide a credence in Denmark and Germany.^ 

The idea of the bird as a ' soul bringer ' probably 
gave rise to the popular belief that it is unlucky 
when a bird hovers near the window of a sick-room, 
a superstition to which Mrs. Hemans has prettily 

alluded : 

Say not 'tis vain ! I tell thee some 

Are warned, b}' a meteor's light, 
Or a pale bird flitting calls them home, 

Or a voice on the winds by night. 

There are various stories told of mysterious 
birds appearing at such a time in different locali- 
ties. In Devonshire the appearance of a white 
breasted bird has long been considered a presage 
of death, a notion which is said to have originated 

' Hardwick's Traditions, Siq)C7-6titio7is, and Folk-lore, Indo- 
p. 243 ; Thorpe's Northern Mythology, i. p. 289. See Kelly's 1872, 
European Folk-lore, p. 103. 



in a tragic occurrence that happened to one of the 
Oxenham family. A local ballad tells how on the 
bridal eve of Margaret, heiress of Sir James 
Oxenham, a silver-breasted bird flew over the 
wedding guests just as Sir James stood up to thank 
them for good wishes. The next day she was slain 
by a discarded lover, and the ballad records how — 

Eound her hovering flies, 

The phantom-bird, for her last breath, 

To bear it to the skies. 

In Yorkshire, Berry Well was supposed to be 
haunted by a bogie in the form of a white goose, 
and the Eev. S. Barmg-Gould informs us how 
Lew Trenchard House is haunted by a white lady 
who goes by the name of Madame Gould, and is 
supposed to be the spirit of a lady who died there, 
April 10, 1795. 'A stone is shown on the 
'* ramps " of Lew Slate Quarry, where seven 
parsons met to lay the old madame, and some 
say that the white owl, which nightly flits to and 
fro in front of Lew House, is the spirit of the 
lady conjured by the parsons into a bird.' ^ 

' See Henderson's Folklore of Northern Counties, pp. 331-335. 


Similarly, wlienever the Tvliite o^Yls are fjccii 
perched on the family mansion of the noLle family 
of Armidel of Wardour, it is regarded as a certain 
indication that one of its members will shortly be 
summoned out of the world. In Comit Mon- 
talembert's 'Vie de Ste. Elizabeth' it is related 
how ' Duke Louis of Thuringia, the husband of 
Ste. Elizabeth of Hungary, being on the point of 
expiring, said to those around him, ''Do 3'ou see 
those doves more white than snow ? " His attend- 
ants supposed him to be a prey to visions ; but a 
little while afterwards he said to them, ''I must 
fly away with those brilliant doves." Having said 
this he fell asleep in peace. Then his almoner, 
Berthold, perceived doves flying av;ay to the east, 
and followed them along with his eyes.' We may 
compare a similar story told of the most beautiful 
woman of the Knistenaux, named ' Foot of the 
Fawn,' who died in her childbirth, and her babe 
with her. Soon afterwards two doves appeared, 
one full grown, and the other a little one. They 
were the spirits of the mother and child, and the 
Indians would gather about the tree on which they 
were perched with reverential love, and worship 


them as tlie spirit of the woman and child. ^ There 
is Lord Lyttelton's weh-known ghost story, and the 
behef of the Duchess of Kendal that George I. 
flew into her window in the shape of a raven. 
Another well-known case was that of the Duchess 
of St. Albans, who, on her death-bed, remarked 
to her step-daughter. Lady Guilford, ' I am so 
happy to day because your father's spirit is 
breathing upon me ; he has taken the shape of 
a little bird singing at my window.' Kelly relates 
an anecdote of a credulous individual who believed 
that the departing soul of his brother-in-law, in the 
form of a bird, tapped at his window at the time 
of his death ; - and in FitzPatrick's ' Life of Bisho23 
Doyle ' it is related, in allusion to his death, that, 
* considering the season was midsummer, and not 
w^inter, the visit of two robin redbreasts to the 
sick-room may be noticed as interesting. They 
remained fluttering round, and sometimes perching 
on the uncurtained bed. The priests, struck by 
the novelty of the circumstance, made no effort to 
expel the little visitors, and the robins hung 

' Eorman's Primitive Siq^crstitions, p. 255. 
- Indo-Euro;pcan Folk-lore, pp. 104, 105. 


lovingly over the bishop's head until death released 
him.' A singular instance of this belief was the 
extraordinary whim of a Worcester lady, who, 
imagining her daughter to exist in the shape of a 
singing-bird, literally furnished her pew in the 
Cathedral with cages full of the kind ; and we are 
told in Lord Oxford's letters that, as she was rich, 
and a benefactress in beautifying the church, no 
objection was made to her harmless folly. 




It is the rule rather than the exception for ghosts 
to take the form of animals. A striking feature 
of this form of animism is its universality, an 
argument, it is said, in favour of its having 
original^ sprung from the old theory of metem- 
psychosis which has pertinaciously existed in 
successive stages of the world's culture. ' Possibly,' 
it has been suggested, ' the animal form of ghosts 
is a mark of the once-supposed divinity of the 
dead. Ancestor worship is one of the oldest of the 
creeds, and in all mythologies we find that the gods 
could transform themselves into any shape at will, 
and frequently took those of beasts and birds.' ^ 
At the same time, one would scarcely expect to 
come across nowadays this fanciful belief in our 

' Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 131. 


own and other civilised countries, and yet instances 
are of constant occurrence, being deeply rooted in 
many a local tradition. Acts of injusice done to a 
person cause the soul to return in animal form by 
way of retribution. Thus, in Cornwall, it is a very 
popular fancy that when a young woman who has 
loved not wisely but too well dies forsaken and 
broken-hearted, she comes back to haunt her de- 
ceiver in the form of a white hare.' This phantom 
pursues the false one everywhere, being generally 
invisible to everyone but himself. It occasionally 
rescues him from danger, but invariably causes his 
death in the end. A Shropshire story tells - how 
* two or three generations back there was a lady 
buried in her jewels at Fitz, and afterwards the 
clerk robbed her ; and she used to walk Cuthery 
Hollow in the form of a colt. They called it 
Obrick's Colt, and one night the clerk met it, and 
fell on his knees, saying, "Abide, Satan ! abide ! I am 
a righteous man, and a psalm singer." ' ^ The ghost 
was known as Obrick's Colt from the name of the 
thief, who, as the peasantry were wont to say, ' had 

^ Hunt's Popular Romances of the West of England, p. 377. 
- Shropshire Folk-lore, pp. 105, lOG, 
3 See Ibid. pp. 108-111. 


niver no pace atter ; a was sadly troubled in his 
yed, and mithered.' ^ 

Sometimes the spirit in animal form is that of 
a ^Yicked person doomed to wear that shape for some 
offence. A man who hanged himself at Broom- 
field, near Shrewsbury, ' came again in the form of 
a large black dog ; ' and an amusing Shropshire story 
is told of the laying of an animal ghost at Bagbury, 
which took the form of a roaring bull, and caused 
no small alarm. This bull, it appears, had been a 
very bad man, but when his unexpected presence 
as a bull-ghost terrified the neighbourhood, it was 
deemed desirable by the twelve parsons whose help 
had been invoked to run him to earth in Hyssington 
Church, with candles and all the paraphernalia em- 
ployed on such occasions. But the bull, becoming 
infuriated, ' made such a bust that he cracked the 
wall of the church from the top to the bottom.' 
Their efforts were ultimately successful, for they 
captured him, and as he was compressible, they 
shut him up in a snuff-box, and laid him in the 
Pied Sea for a thousand years. 

Lady Howard, a Devonshire notable of the time 

' Sse Hartshorne's Saloina Antiqiia, p. 522 


of James I., in spite of her beauty and accomplish- 
ments, had many bad quaHties, and amongst others 
was not only guilty of unnatural cruelty to her 
only daughter, but had a mysterious knack of 
getting rid of her husbands, having been married 
no less than four times. Her misdemeanours, 
however, did not escape with impunity, for, on her 
death, her spirit was transformed into a hound, 
and compelled to run every night, between mid- 
night and cockcrow, from the gateway of Fitzford, 
her former residence, to Oakhampton Park, and 
bring back to the place from whence she started a 
blade of grass in her mouth, and this penance she 
is doomed to continue till every blade of grass is 
removed from the park, which she will not be able 
to effect till the end of the world. 

Many spectral dogs, believed to be the souls of 
wicked persons, are said to haunt the sides of rivers 
and pools, and the story goes that there once lived 
in the hamlet of Dean Combe, Devon, a weaver of 
great fame and skill. After a prosperous life he 
died, but the next day he appeared sitting at 
the loom and working diligently as when he 
was alive. His sons appHed to the parson, who, 


bearing the noise of the ^Yeaver's shuttle above, 
cried, ' Knowles ! come down ; this is no place for 
thee.' * I will,' said the weaver, ' as soon as 1 have 
worked out my quill ' (the quill is the shuttle-full 
of w^ool). 'Nay,' said the vicar, 'thou hast been 
long enough at thy work, come down at once ! ' 
So when the spirit came down, the vicar took a 
handful of earth from the churchyard, and threw 
it on its face, and instantly it became a black hound. 
Then the vicar took a nutshell with a hole in it, 
and led the hound to the pool below the waterfall. 

* Take this shell,' he said, ' and when thou shalt 
have dipped out the pool with it, thou mayest rest, 
not before.'^ On the west coast of Ireland, fisher- 
men have a strong prejudice against killing seals, 
owing to a popular tradition that they enshrined 

* the souls of them that were drowaied at the 
flood.' It was also said that such seals possessed 
the i)ower of casting aside their external skins, 
and disporting themselves in human form on the 

Within the parish of Tring, Hertford, a loor 
old w^oman was drowned in 1751 for suspected 

* Notes and Queries, 1st S. ii. p. 515. 


witchcraft. A chimney-sweeper, who was the 
principal perpetrator of this deed, was hanged 
and gibbeted near the place where the murder 
was committed ; and while the gibbet stood, and 
long after it had disappeared, the spot washamited 
by a black dog. A correspondent of the ' Book of 
Days ' (ii. 433) says that he was told by the village 
schoolmaster, who had been * abroad,' that he 
himself had seen this diabolical dog. ' I was 
retm*ning home,' said he, 'late at nigbt in a gig 
with the person who was driving. When we came 
near the spot, where a portion of the gibbet had 
lately stood, he saw on the bank of the roadside a 
flame of fire as large as a man's hat. *' What's 
that?" I exclaimed. *'Hush!" said my com- 
panion, and suddenly pulling in his horse, made 
a dead stop. I then saw an immense black dog 
just in front of our horse, the strangest looking 
creature I ever beheld. He was as big as a 
Newfoundland, but very gaunt, shaggy, with long 
ears and tail, eyes like balls of fire, and large, long 
teeth, for he opened his mouth and seemed to grin 
at us. In a few minutes the dog disappeared, 
seeming to vanish like a shadow, or to sink into 


the earth, and we drove on over the spot where he 
had lain.' 

Occasionally, when loss of life has happened 
through an accident, a spectre animal of some 
kind has been afterwards seen. Some years ago 
an accident happened in a Cornish mine, whereby 
several men lost their lives. As soon as help 
could be procured, a party descended, but the 
remains of the poor fellows were discovered to be 
mutilated beyond recognition. On being brought 
up to the surface, the clothes and a mass of 
mangled flesh dropped from the bodies. A by- 
stander, anxious to spare the feelings of the 
relatives present, quickly cast the unsightly mass 
into the blazing furnace of an engine close at 
hand. But ever since that day the engineman 
positively asserted that troops of little black dogs 
continually haunted the locality. Then there is 
the pretty legend mentioned by Wordsworth in 
his poem entitled, * The White Doe of Eylstone,' 
in which is embodied a Yorkshire tradition to the 
effect that the lady founder of Bolton Abbey 
revisited the ruins of the venerable structure in 
the form of a spotless white doe : 


Which, though seemmgly doomed in its breast to sustain 
A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain, 
Is spotless, and holy, and gentle, and bright. 
And glides o'er the earth like an angel of light. 

So common in France are human ghosts in 
bestial form, ' that M. D'Assier has invented a 
Dar^Yinian way of accounting for the phenomena. 
M. D'Assier, a iDOsitivist, is a beheyer in ghosts, 
but not in the immortahty of the soul. He 
suggests that the human revenants in the guise of 
sheep, cows, and shadowy creatures may be 
accounted for by a kind of Atavism, or '* throwing 
back," on the side of the spirit to the lower animal 
forms out of which humanity was developed ! ' ^ 

According to a German piece of folk-lore, the 
soul takes the form of a snake, a notion we find 
shared by the Zulus, w^ho revere a certain kind 
of serpents as the ghosts of the dead ; and the 
Northern Indians speak of a serpent coming out 
of the mouth of a woman at death. It is 
further related that out of the mouth of a sleeping 
person a snake creeps and goes a long distance, 
and that whatever it sees, or suffers, on its way, 

» Nineteenth Century, April 1885, p. 625. 


the sleeper dreams of. If it is prevented from 

returning, the person dies.^ Another belief tells us 

that the soul occasionally escapes from the mouth 

in the shape of a weasel or a mouse, a superstition 

to which Goethe alludes in ' Faust ' : 

Ah ! in the midst of her song, 

A red mouseskin sprang out of her mouth. 

Turning to similar beliefs current among dis- 
tant nations, we are told that the Andaman 
Islanders had a notion that at death the soul 
vanished from the earth in the form of various 
animals and fishes ; and in Guinea, monkeys 
found in the locality of a graveyard are supposed 
to be animated by the spirits of the dead. As Mr. 
Andrew Lang remarks : - ' Among savages who 
believe themselves to be descended from beasts, 
nothing can be more natural than the hypothesis 
that the souls revert to bestial shapes.' Certain 
of the North American Indian tribes believe that 
the spirits of their dead enter into bears ; and some 
of the Papuans in New Guinea ' imagine they will 
reappear as certain of the animals in their own 

> See Thorpe's Northern Mijtholcgij, ii. pp. 289, 2C0. 
'^ Nineteenth Century^ April 1885, p. 625. 


island. The cassowary and the emu are the 
most remarkable animals that they know of ; they 
have lodged in them the shades of their ancestors, 
and hence the people abstain from eating them.' ^ 
Spiritualism, we are told, is very widely spread 
among the Esquimos, who maintain that all 
animals have their spirits, and that the spirits of 
men can enter into the bodies of animals. ^ In the 
Ladrone Islands it was supposed that the spirits 
of the dead animated the bodies of the fish, and 
* therefore to make better use of these precious 
spirits, they burnt the soft portions of the dead 
body, and swallowed the cinders which they let 
float on the top of their cocoa-nut wine.' ^ 

In most parts of England there is a popular 
belief in a spectral dog, which is generally de- 
scribed as ' large, shaggy, and black, with long 
ears and tail. It does not belong to any species of 
living dogs, but is severally said to represent a 
hound, a setter, a terrier, or a shepherd dog, 
though often larger than a Newfoundland.' ^ It is 
commonly supposed to be a bad spirit, haunting 

' Letourneau's Sociology, p. 250. "^ Ibid. p. 264. 

» Ibid. p. 266. * Book o Days, ii. p. 433 


places ^Yhere evil deeds have been done, or where 
some calamity may be expected. In Lancashire, 
this spectre-dog is known as 'Trash' and ' Striker,' ^ 
its former name having been aj^plied to it from 
the peculiar noise made by its feet, which is sup- 
posed to resemble that of a person walking along a 
miry, sloppy road, with heavy shoes ; and its latter 
appellation from its uttering a curious screech, 
which is thought to warn certain persons of the 
approaching death of some relative or friend. If 
followed, it retreats with its eyes fronting its 
pursuer, and either sinks into the ground with a 
frightful shriek, or in some mysterious manner 
disappears. When struck, the weapon passes 
through it as if it were a mere shadow. In 
Norfolk and Cambridgeshire this apparition is 
known to the peasantry by the name of ' shuck ' 
— the provincial word for ' shag ' — and is reported 
to haunt churchyards and other lonely places. A 
dreary lane in the parish of Overstrand is called 
from this spectral animal ' Shuck's Lane,' and it 
is said that if the spot w^here it has been seen 
be examined after its disappearance, it will be 
^ See Harland and Wilkinson's Lancashire Folk-lore, p. 91. 


found to be scorched, and strongly impregnated 
with the smell of brimstone. Mrs. Latham tells ^ 
how a man of notoriously bad character, who 
lived in a lonely spot at the foot of the South 
Downs, without any companion of either sex, was 
believed to be nightly haunted by evil spirits in the 
form of rats. Persons passing by his cottage late 
at night heard him cursing them, and desiring them 
to let him rest in peace. It was supposed they 
were sent to do judgment on him, and would carry 
him away some night. But he received his death- 
blow in a drunken brawl. 

In the neighbourhood of Leeds there is the 
Padfoot, a weird apparition about the size of a 
small donkey, * with shaggy hair and large eyes like 
saucers.' Mr. Baring-Gould relates ^ how a man 
in Horbury once saw ' the Padfooit,' which * in this 
neighbourhood is a white dog like a '' flay-craw." ' 
It goes sometimes on two legs, sometimes it runs 
on three, and to see it is a prognostication of death. 
He was going home by Jenkin, and he saw a white 
dog in the hedge. He struck at it, and the stick 

> ' West Sussex Superstitions,' Folk-lore Record, i. p. 23. 
2 Henderson's Folk- ore of Northern Counties, pp. 274, 275. 



passed through it. Then the white dog looked at 
him, and it had ' great saucer e'en ' ; and he was 
so * flayed,' that he ran home trembHng and went 
to bed, when he fell ill and died. With this 
strange apparition may be compared the Barguest, 
Bahrgeist, or Boguest of Northumberland, Durham, 
and Yorkshire, and the Boggart of Lancashire; 
an uncanine creature, which generally assumes 
the form of a large black dog with flaming eyes, 
and is supposed to be a presage of death. The 
word * barguest,' according to Sir "Walter Scott, 
is from the German * bahrgeist ' — spirit of the 
bier ; and, as it has been pointed out, the proverbial 
expression to ' war like a Barguest,' shows how deep 
a hold this apparition once had on the popular 
mind. There is a Barguest in a glen between 
Darlington and Houghton, near Throstlenest, and 
another haunted a piece of waste land above a 
spring called the Oxwells, between Wreghorn and 
Headingly Hill, near Leeds. On the death of any 
person of local importance in the neighbourhood 
the creature would come forth, followed by all the 
dogs barking and howling.^ Another form of this 

^ Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 275. 


animal spectre is the Capelthwaite, which, according 
to common report, had the power of aj^pearing in 
the form of any quadruped, but usually chose that 
of a large black dog. It does not seem to have 
appeared of late years, for tradition tells how a 
vicar of Beetham went out in his ecclesiastical 
vestments to lay this troublesome spirit in the 
Eiver Bela.^ 

In Wales, there is the Gwyllgi, or ' dog of dark- 
ness,' a terrible spectre of a mastiff which, with a 
baleful breath and blazing red eyes, has often in- 
spired terror even amongst the strong-minded 
Welsh peasantry. Many stories are told of its 
encountering unwary travellers, who have been so 
overcome by its unearthly howl, or by the glare 
of its fiery eyes, that they have fallen senseless en 
the ground. A certain lane, leading from Mowsiad 
to Lisworney-Crossways, is said to have been 
haunted by a Gwyllgi of the most terrible aspect. 
A farmer, living near there, was one night return- 
ing home from market on a young mare, when 
suddenly the animal shied, reared, tumbled the 
farmer off, and bolted for home. The farm-servants, 

^ See Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, pp. 274-278. 



finding the mare trembling by the barn door, sus- 
pected she had seen the Gwyllgi, and going in 
search of their master, they found him on his back 
in the mud, who, being questioned, protested ' it 
was the Gwyllgi, and nothing less, that had made 
all this trouble.' ^ 

It is a popular belief in Wales that horses have 

the peculiar ' gift ' of seeing spectres, and carriage 

horses have been known to display every sign of 

the utmost terror when the occupants of the 

carriage could see no cause for alarm. Such an 

apparition is an omen of death, and an indication 

that a funeral will pass before long, bearing to the 

grave some person not dead at the time of the 

horses' fright. Another famous dog-fiend, in the 

shape of a shaggy spaniel, was the ' Mauthe Doog,' 

which was said to haunt Peel Castle, Isle of Man. 

Its favourite place was the guard-chamber, where 

it would lie down by the fireside. According to 

Waldron, ' the soldiers lost much of their terror 

by the frequency of the sight ; yet, as they believed 

it to be an evil spirit waiting for an oj^portunity to 

hinder them, the belief kept them so far in order 

^ See Wirt Sikes' British Goblins, pp. 167-169. 


that they refrained from swearing in its presence. 
But, as the Maiithe Doog used to come out and 
return by the passage through the church, by 
which also somebody must go to dehver the keys 
every night to the captain, they continued to go 
together ; he whose turn it was to do that duty 
being accompanied by the next in rotation. On a 
certain night, however, one of the soldiers, being 
the worse for liquor, would go with the key alone, 
though it really was not his turn. His comrades 
tried to dissuade him, but he said he wanted the 
Mauthe Doog's company, and would try whether he 
was dog or devil. Soon afterwards a great noise 
alarmed the soldiers ; and when the adventurer 
returned, he was struck with horror and speechless, 
nor could he even make such signs as might give 
them to understand what had happened to him ; 
but he died with distorted features in violent agony. 
After this the apparition was never seen again.' 

Then there are the packs of spectral hounds, 
which some folk-lorists tell us are evil spirits 
that have assumed this form in order to mimic the 
sports of men, or to hunt their souls. They are 
variously named in different parts of the country — 


being designated in the North, * Gabriel's Hounds ' ; 
in Devon, the ' Wisk', ' Yesk,' ' Yeth,' or ' Heath 
Hounds ' ; in Wales, ' Cwn Annwn ' or * Own 
y Wybr ' ; and in Cornwall, the * Devil and his 
Dandy-Dogs.' Such spectral hounds are generally 
described as ' monstrous human-headed dogs,' and 

* black, with fiery eyes and teeth, and si3rinkled all 
over with blood.' They are often heard though 
seldom seen, * and seem to be passing along simply in 
the air, as if in hot pursuit of their prey ' ; and when 
they appear to hang over a house, then death or 
misfortune may shortly be expected. In the gorge 
of Cliviger the spectre huntsman, under the name of 

* Gabriel Eat chets,' with his hounds yelping through 
the air, is believed to hunt a milk-white doe 
round the Eagle's Crag, in the Yale of Todmorden, 
on All Hallows Eve.^ Mr. Holland, of Sheffield, 
has embodied the local belief in the subjoined 
sonnet, and says : * I never can forget the im- 
pression made upon my mind when once arrested 
by the cry of these Gabriel hounds as I passed the 
parish church of Sheffield one densely dark and 

^ See Eoby's Traditions of Lancashire ; Homerton's Isles of 
Loch Au'C ; Hardwick's Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-lore, 
pp. 153-176. 


very still night. The sound was exactly like the 
questing of a dozen beagles on the foot of a race, 
but not so loud, and highly suggestive of ideas of 
the supernatural.' 

Oft have I heard my honoured mother saj^ 
How she has Hstened to the Gabriel hounds — 
Those strange, unearthly, and mysterious sounds 

Which on the ear through murkiest darkness fell ; 

And how, entranced by superstitious spell, 
The trembhng villager nor seldom heard, 
In the quaint notes of the nocturnal bkd. 

Of death premonished, some sick neighbour's knell. 

I, too, remember, once at midnight dark. 

How these sky-yelpers startled me, and stirred 
My fancy so, I could have then averred 

A mimic pack of beagles low did bark. 

Nor wondered I that rustic fear should trace 

A spectral huntsman doomed to that long moonless chase. 

In the neighbourhood of Leeds these hounds 
are known as ' Gabble Eetchets,' and are supposed, 
as in other places, to be the souls of unbaptized 
children -who flit restlessly about their parents' 
abode. The Yeth hounds were heard some few 
years ago in the parish of St. Mary Tavy by an old 
man named Eoger Burn. He was walkmg in the 
fields, when he suddenly heard the baying of the 


hounds, the shouts and horn of the huntsman, and 
the smacking of his whip. The last point the old 
man quoted as at once settling the question, * How 
could I he mistaken ? Why, I heard the very 
smacking of his whip.' 

But, as Mr. Yarrell has long ago explained, this 
mysterious noise is caused by hean-geese, which, 
coming southwards in large flocks on the approach 
cf winter — partly from Scotland and its islands, but 
chiefly from Scandinavia — choose dark nights for 
their migration, and utter a loud and very peculiar 
cr3^ The sound of these birds has been observed 
in every part of England, and as far west as 
Cornwall. One day a man was riding alone near 
Land's End on a still dark night, when the yelping 
cry broke out above his head so suddenly, and to 
appearance so near, that he instinctively pulled up 
the horse as if to allow the pack to pass, the animal 
trembling violently at the unexpected sounds. 

An amusing account of the devil and his dandy- 
dogs is given by Mr. J. Q. Couch, in his ' Folk-lore 
of a Cornish Village,' from which it appears that 
* a poor herdsman was journeying homeward across 
the moors one windy night, when he heard at a 


distance among the Tors the baying of hounds, which 
he soon recognised as the dismal chorus of the 
dandy-dogs. It was three or four miles to his house, 
and, very much alarmed, he hurried onward as fast 
as the treacherous nature of the soil and the uncer- 
tainty of the path would allow ; but, alas ! the melan- 
choly yelping of the hounds, and the dismal holloa 
of the hunter, came nearer and nearer. After a 
considerable run they had so gained upon him that 
on looking back — oh, horror ! he could distinctly 
see hunter and dogs. The former was terrible to 
look at, and had the usual complement of saucer- 
ei/es, horns, and tail accorded by common consent 
to the legendary devil. He was black, of course, 
and carried in his hand a long hunting pole. The 
dogs, a numerous pack, blackened the small patch 
of moor that w^as visible, each snorting fire, and 
uttering a yelp of indescribably frightful tone. 
No cottage, rock, or tree was near to give the herds- 
man shelter, and nothing apparently remained to 
him but to abandon himself to their fury, when a 
happy thought suddenly flashed upon him and 
suggested a resource. Just as they were about to 
rush upon him, he fell on his knees in prayer. 


There was a strange j^ower in the holy words he 
uttered, for immediately, as if resistance had been 
offered, the hell hounds stood at bay, howling more 
dismally than ever, and the hunter shouted, ** Bo 
Shrove," which means " The boy prays," at which 
they all drew off on seme other pursuit and 

Gervase of Tilbury informs us that in the 
thirteenth century the wild hunt was often seen by 
full moon in England traversing forest and down. 
In the twelfth century it was known as the Herle- 
thing, the banks of the Wye having been the scene 
of the most frequent chases. 

In Wales, the Cwn Annwn, or Dogs of Hell, or, 
as they are sometimes called, ' Dogs of the Sky,' howl 
through the air * with a voice frightfully dispro- 
portionate to their size, full of a wild sort of 
lamentation,' but, although terrible to hear, they are 
harmless, and have never been known to commit 
any mischief. One curious peculiarity is that the 
nearer these spectral hounds are to a man, the less 
loud their voices sound; and the farther off they 
are, the louder is their cry. According to one popu- 
lar tradition, they are supposed to be hunting 


through the air the soul of the -wicked man the 
instant it quits the body. 

This superstition occupies, too, a conspicuous 
place in the folk-lore of Germany and Norway. 
Mr. Baring-Gould, in his ' Iceland, its Scenes and 
Sages,' describes it as he heard it from his guide Jon, 
who related it to him under the title of the ' Yule 
Host.' He tells us how ' Odin, or 'Wodin, is the wild 
huntsman who nightly tears on his white horse 
over the German and Norwegian forests and moor- 
sweeps, with his legion of hell hounds. Some 
luckless woodcutter, on a still night, is returning 
through the pine-woods when suddenly his ear 
catches a distant wail ; a moan rolls through the 
interlacing branches ; nearer and nearer comes the 
sound. There is the winding of along horn waxing 
louder and louder, the baying of hounds, the rattle 
of hoofs and paws on the pine-tree tops.' This 
spectral chase goes by different names. In Thurin- 
gia and elsewhere it is ' Hakelnberg ' or ' Hackeln- 
biirend,' and the story goes that Hakelnberg was 
a knight passionately fond of the chase, who, on his 
death-bed, would not listen to the priest, but said, 
* I care not for heaven, I care only for the chase.' 


Then 'hunt until the last day,' exclaimed the 
priest. And now, through storm and sunshine, he 
fleets, a faint barking or yelping in the air announc- 
ing his approach. Thorpe quotes a similar story 
as current in the Netherlands,^ and in Denmark it 
occurs under various forms.- In Schleswig it is 
Duke Abel, who slew his brother in 1252. Tradition 
says that in an expedition against the Frieslanders, 
he sank into a deep morass as he was fording the 
E3'der, where, being encumbered with the weight 
of his armour, he was slain. His body was buried 
in the Cathedral, but his spirit found no rest. 
The canons dug up the corpse, and buried it in a 
morass near Gottorp, but in the neighbourhood of 
the place wdiere he is buried all kinds of shrieks 
and strange sounds have been heard, and ' many 
persons w^orthy of credit affirm that they have 
heard sounds so resembling a huntsman's horn, 
that anyone would say that a hunter was hunting 
there. It is, indeed, the general rumour that 
Abel has appeared to many, black of aspect, riding 
on a small horse, and accompanied by three hounds, 

' Northern Mythology, iii. p. 219. 
^ Ihid. ii. pp. 195-202. 


which appear to be burning Hke fire.'^ In Sweden, 
when a noise Hke that of carriage and horses is 
heard at night, the people say, * Odin is passing 
by,' and in Norway this spectral hunt is known as 
the * Chase of the inhabitants of Asgarth.' In 
Danzig, the leader of the hounds is Dyterbjernat, 
i.e. Diedrick of Bern. Near Fontainebleau, Hugh 
Capet is supposed to ride, having, it is said, rushed 
over the palace with his hounds before the assassina- 
tion of Henry IV. ; and at Blois, the hunt is called 
the ' Chasse Macabee.' In some parts of France the 
wild huntsman is known as Harlequin, or Henequin, 
and in the Franche Comte he is ' Herod in pursuit of 
the Holy Innocents.' This piece of folk-lore is wide- 
spread, and it may be added that in Normandy, the 
Pyrenees, and in Scotland, King Arthur has the 
reputation of making nightly rides. 

Another form of spectre animal is the kirk- grim, 
which is believed to haunt many churches. Some- 
times it is a dog, sometimes a pig, sometimes a 
horse, the haunting spectre being the spirit of an 
animal buried alive in the churchyard for the 
purpose of scaring away the sacrilegious. Sw^edish 

* Northern Mythology^ ii. pp. 198, 199. 


tradition tells how it was customary for the early 
founders of Christian churches to bury a lamb 
under the altar. It is said that when anyone 
enters a church out of service time he may chance 
to see a little lamb spring across the choir and 
vanish. This is the church lamb, and its appear- 
ance in the churchyard, especially to the grave- 
digger, is said to betoken the death of a child.^ 
According to a Danish form of this superstition, 
the kirk-grim dwells either in the tower or 
wherever it can find a place of concealment, and is 
thought to protect the sacred building ; and it is 
said that in the streets of Kroskjoberg, a grave-sow, 
or as it is also called, a ' gray-sow,' has frequently 
been seen. It is thought to be the apparition of a 
sow formerly buried ahve, and to forebode death and 

1 See Thorpe's Northern Mytholo-gij, ii. pp. 102, 166, 167. 




Stories of mysterious lights suddenly illuminating 
the nocturnal darkness of unfrequented spots have •' 
long been current throughout the world. In the 
' Odyssey,' when Athene was mystically present as 
Odysseus and Telemachus were moving the weapons 
out of the hall (xix. 21-50), Telemachus exclaims, 
' Father, surely a great marvel is this I behold ! 
Meseemeth that the walls of the hall, and the fair 
spaces between the pillars, and the beams of pine, 
and the columns that run aloft, are bright as it 
were with flaming fire. Verily some god is within 
of them that hold the wide heaven.' Odysseus 
answers, * Lo, this is the wont of the gods that 
possess Olympus.' In Theocritus, when Hera 
sends the snakes to attack the infant Heracles, 
a mysterious flame shines forth. The same 



phenomenon occurs in the Sagas of Burnt Njas, 
when Gunnar sings within his tomb. The 
brilhance of the Kght which attends the presence 
of the supernatural is indeed widely diffused, and, 
as Mr. Andrew Lang writes,^ * Philosophers may 
dispute whether any objective fact lies at the bottom 
of this belief, or whether a savage superstition has 
survived into Greek epic and idyll and into 
modern ghost stories.' 

Although science has years ago explained many 
such phosphoric appearances as governed by certain 
atmospheric laws, superstitious fancy has not only 
attributed to them supernatural causes, but 
associated them with all kinds of weird and 
romantic tales. According to one popular notion, 
strange hghts of this kind are the spirits of persons 
who, for some reason, cannot remain quiet. Thus 
a spectre known as the ' Lady and the Lantern,' has 
long been said to haunt the beach at St. Ives, 
Cornwall, in stormy weather. The story goes that 
a lady and her child had been saved from a wreck, 
but the child was swept away and drowned, and 

* The Nineteenth Centunj, ' Comparative Study of Ghost 
Stories,' 1885, xvii. pp. 629, 630. 


she is supposed to be hunting for its body. 
Similar tales are told elsewhere, but the object of 
search is not always the same. A light, for 
instance, hovers about a stone on the Cornish 
coast, locally designated ' Madge Figg's Chair,' which 
is supposed to be the ghost of a wrecked lady 
whom Madge stripped of her jewels. In Scotland 
the appearance of a spectral ' lady of the golden 
casket ' was attended by a phantom light, and it is 
also related how the ghost of a murdered woman is 
seen by her lover at sea, approaching in the shape 
of a bright light, which assumes the human form 
as it draws nearer. She finally calls him, and he 
springs into her arms, and disappears in a flash of 

There is the popular legend of the 'Eadiant 
Boy ' — a strange boy with a shining face, who 
has been seen in certain Lincolnshire houses and 
elsewhere. This ghost was described to Mr. 
Baring-Gould ^ by a Yorkshire farmer, who, as he 
was riding one night to Thirsk, suddenly saw pass 

1 Eev. W. Gregor, Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland, 1881, 
p. 69. 

- Yorkshire Oddities, ii. p. 105. 


by him a * radiant boy' on a white horse. To 
quote his own words, Uhere was no sound of 
footfall as the boy drew nigh. He was first aware 
of the approach of the mysterious rider by seeing 
the shadow of himself and his horse flung before 
him on the high road. Thinking there might be a 
carriage with lamps, he was not alarmed till, by 
the shortening of the shadow, he knew that the light 
must be near him, and then he was surprised to 
hear no sound. He thereupon turned in his saddle, 
and at the same moment the *' radiant boy " passed 
him. He was a child of about eleven, with a fresh 
bright face. " Had he any clothes on ? and if so, 
what were they like ? " I asked. But the old man 
could not tell. His astonishment was so great that 
he took no notice of particulars. The boy rode on 
till he came to a gate which led into a field ; he 
stooped as if to open the gate, rode through, and 
all was instantly dark.' 

At the commencement of the present century 
the little village of Black Heddon, near Stam- 
fordham, in Northumberland, was greatly dis- 
turbed by an apparition known as 'Silky,' from 
the nature of her dress. She suddenly appeared 


to benighted travellers, breaking forth upon them 
in dazzling splendour, in the darkest and most 
lonely parts of the road- This spirit exercised 
a marvellous power over the brute creation, and 
once, it is said, waylaid a waggon bringing coals 
to a farm near Black Heddon, and fixed the team 
upon a bridge, since called, after her, ' Silky's 
Brig.' Do w^hat he could, the driver could not 
make the horses move a step, and there they would 
have stayed all night had not another farm servant 
come up with some mountain ash about him. It 
was generally supposed that Silky, who suddenly dis- 
appeared, was the troubled phantom of some person 
who had died miserable because she owned treasure, 
and was overtaken by death before she had dis- 
closed its hiding-place. 

An old barn situated near Birchen Tower, 
Hollinwood, which was noted for the apparition of 
Madame Beswick on dark and wintry nights, at 
times, it is said, appears to be on fire, a red glare of 
glowing heat being observable through the loopholes 
and crevices of the building. Sometimes the sight 
is so threatening that the neighbours will raise an 
alarm that the barn is in flames. But when the 


premises are searched, everything is in order, and 
nothing found wrong. ^ And a Welsh romance 
tells how, after Howel Sele slew his cousin Glen- 
dower, and buried him in ' a broad and blasted oak, 
scorched by the Hghtning's vivid glare,' 

Pale lights on Cader's rocks were seen, 
And midnight voices heard to moan. 

Such phantom lights are not confined to land, and 

most of the tales of spectre ships speak of their 

being seen by the affrighted crews. In the ' Salem 

Spectre Ship ' we are told how 

The night grew thick, but a phantom hght 
Aroimd her path was shed. 

They are generally dreaded as foreboding a catas- 
trophe, and have given rise to a host of curious 
stories. A light is said to hover about in Sennen 
Cove, which is thought to be an ill-omened appa- 
rition ; and a Welsh story speaks of a ghost, 
the ' Cyhyraeth,' that appears on the beach, in a 
light, with groanings and cries.^ Flames are re- 
ported to issue from the Eider Eiver, and from 
several lakes in Germany. Where ships have been 

' See Ingram's Haunted Homes, 2nd S. pp. 29, 30. 
2 See "Wirt Sikes' British Goblins, pp. 219-221. 


wrecked, blue lights are supposed to faintly glim- 
mer, occasionally accompanied by the spirits of 
wrecked or injured persons. A notable instance is 
told of Sable Island,^ where, with the leaping flames, 
is seen the ' Lady of Copeland ' wrecked and mur- 
dered by pirates from the Amelie transport. She 
has one finger missing on her hand. 

Sometimes weird lights flickering in solitary 
places are thought to be the unhappy spirits of 
wicked persons who have no rest in the grave. 
Milton refers to this fancy in his ' Paradise Lost ' 

(ix. 634) : 

A wandering fire, 
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night 
Condenses, and the cold environs round, 
Kindled through agitation to a flame, 
Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends. 
Hovering and blazing with delusive light. 
Misleads the amazed night wanderer from his way 
To bogs and mires ; and oft through pond or pool 
There swallowed up and lost from succour far. 

Hence they were doomed to wander backwards and 
forwards carrying a light. A tradition current in 
Normandy says that a pale light occasionally seen 
by travellers is the unquiet spirit of some unfortu- 
^ ' Secrets of Sable Island,' Harpefs Magazine. 


nate woman who, as a punishment for her intrigues 
with a minister of the Church, is doomed to this 
existence. There are various versions of this story, 
and one formerly current in this country tells 
how the hovering flame — the cause of terror to 
many — is the soul of a priest who has been con- 
demned to expiate his vows of perpetual chastity 
by thus haunting the scenes of his disobedience. 
Brand, quoting from an old work on * Lights that 
Lead People out of their Ways in the Night,' informs 
us that the lights which are seen in churchyards 
and Moorish places were represented by the Popish 
clergy to be ' souls come out of purgatory all in 
flame, to move the people to pray for their entire 
deliverance, by which they gulled them of much 
money to say mass for them, everyone thinking it 
might be the soul of his or her deceased relations.' 
According to another explanation, it is beheved 
on the Continent that the ghosts of those who in 
their lifetime were guilty of removing their neigh- 
bours' landmarks are fated to ream hither and 
thither, lantern in hand, ' sometimes impelled to 
replace the old boundary mark, then to move it 
again, constantly changing then* course with their 


changing purpose.' A Swedish tradition adds that 
such a spirit may be heard saying in a harsh, 
hoarse voice, * It is right ! it is right ! it is right ! ' 
But the next moment qualms of conscience and 
anguish seize him, and he then exclaims, ' It is 
wrong ! it is wrong ! it is wrong ! ' ^ It is also said 
that these lights are the souls of land-measurers, 
who, having acted dishonestly in their business, are 
trying to remedy the wrong measurements they 
made. A German legend tells how, at the parti- 
tion of the land, there arose between the villages of 
Alversdorf and Kost, in South Ditmarschen, great 
disputes. One man gave fraudulent measurements, 
but after his death he wandered about as a fire 
sprite. A flame, the height of a man, was seen 
dancing about till the moor dried up. Whenever 
it flared up higher than usual, the people would 
cry out, ' Dat is de Scheelvalgt ' — that is the land- 
divider. There is a tale told of a certain land- 
measurer near Farsum, in the Netherlands, who 
had in his lifetime acted dishonestly when he had a 
piece of land to measure. He suffered himself * to 

^ See Thorpe's Northern MytJwlogy, ii, pp. 97, 202, 211 ; iii. 
pp. 11, 158, 268. 


be bribed by one or other, and then allotted to the 
party more than was just, for which offence he 
was condemned after death to wander as a burning 
man with a burning measuring- staff.' 

Popular fancy, too, has long identified phantom 
lights as being the souls of unbaptized children. 
Because such souls cannot enter heaven, they make 
their abodes in forests, and in dark and lonely places, 
where they mourn over their hard lot. If at night 
they chance to meet anyone, they run up to him, and 
walk on before to show him the way to some water 
where they may be baptized. The mysterious lady, 
Frau Bertha, is ever attended by troops of unbaptized 
children, whom she takes with her when she joins 
the wild huntsman. One tradition relates how a 
Dutch parson, happening to return home later 
than usual, was confronted with no less than 
three of these fiery phenomena. Eemembering 
them to be the souls of unbaptized children, he 
thoughtfully stretched out his hand, and pronounced 
the words of baptism over them. But, much to his 
unexpected surprise, in the same instant hundreds of 
these moving lights made their appearance, which so 
frightened him that, forgetting his good intentions, 


lie ran home as fast as he could. In Ireland 
un baptized children have been represented as sit- 
ting blindfolded within fairy moats, the peasantry 
supposing such souls * go into nought.' A somewhat 
similar idea may be found in Longfellow's 'Evange- 
line,' where we have introduced among the contes 
of an Arcadian village notary allusion to 

The white Letiche, the ghost of a child imchristened, 
Died, and v/as doomed to haimt unseen the chambers of 

Closely allied with the notion of phantom Hghts 
are the strange phosphoric appearances said occa- 
sionally to be seen about the dying. In Kussia, 
the soul under certain circumstances is believed to 
assume the form of a flame, and such a ghostly 
apparition cannot be banished till the necessary 
prayers have been offered up.^ According to a 
Sussex death-omen, lights of a circular form seen 
,in the air are significant, and it is supposed that the 
death of sick persons is shown by the prognostic of 
* shell-fire.' This is a sort of lambent flame, which 
seems to rise from the bodies of those who are ill, 
and to envelope the bed. On one occasion, con- 

I Songs of the Russian People, 1872, p. 116. 


siderable alarm was created in a Sussex village by 
a pale light being observed to move over the bed of 
a sick person, and after flickering for some time in 
different parts of the room, to vanish through the 
window. But the difficulty was eventually ex- 
plained, for the light was found to proceed from a 
luminous insect — the small glow-worm.^ Marsh ^ 
relates how a pale moonlight-coloured glimmer was 
once seen playing round the head of a dying girl 
about an hour and a half before her last breath. 
The light proceeded from her head, and was faint and 
tremulous like the reflection of summer lightning, 
which at first those watching her mistook it to be. 
Another case, reported by a medical man in Ireland, 
was that of a consumptive patient, in whose cabin 
strange lights had been seen, filling the neighbour- 
hood with alarm. To quote a further instance, 
from the mouth of a patient in a London hospital, 
some time since, the nurses observed issuing a pale 
bluish flame, and soon after the man died. The 
frightened nurses were at a loss to account for this 
unusual sight, but a scientific explanation of the 

» Folk-lore Record, 1878, i. p. 54. 

* Evolution of Light from the Living Subject. 


phenomenon ascribed it to phosphoretted hydrogen, 
a result of incipient decomposition.^ 

Dante Kossetti, in his * Blessed Damozel,' ^vhen 
he describes her as looking down from heaven 
towards the earth that ' spins like a fretful image,' 
whence she awaits the coming of her lover, depicts 
the souls mounting up to God as passing by her 
* like thin flames.' 

Another form of this superstitious fancy is the 
corpse-candle, or ' tomb-fire,' which is invariably a 
death-warning. It sometimes appears ' as a stately 
flambeau, stalking along unsupported, burning with 
a ghastly blue flame. Sometimes it is a plain tallow 
" dip " in the hand of a gho^t ; and when the ghost 
is seen distinctly, it is recognised as that of some 
person still living, who will now soon die ^ — in fact, 
a wraith.' Occasionally the light issues from the 
person's mouth, or nostrils. The size of the candle 
indicates the age of the person who is about to die, 
being large when it is a full-grown person whose 
death is foretold, small when it is a child, still 
smaller when an infant. When two candles to- 

* Transactions Cardiff Natural Society, iv. p. 5. 
2 Wirt Sikes, British Gohlins, p. 239. 


gether are seen, one of which is large and the other 

small, it is a mother and child ^Yho are to die. 

When the flame is white the doomed person is a 

woman, when red a man. A Carmarthenshire 

tradition relates how one evening, when the coach 

which rmis between Llandilo and Carmarthen was 

passing by Golden Grove, the property of the Earl 

of Cawdor, three corpse-candles were observed 

on the surface of the water ghding down the 

stream which rmis near the road. A few days 

afterwards, just as many men were drowned there. 

Such a light, too, has long been thought to hover 

near the grave of the drowned, reminding us of 

Moore's lines — 

"Where lights, like charnel meteors, burned the distant wave, 
Bluely as o'er some seaman's grave, 

and stories of such uncanny appearances have been 
told of nearly every village churchyard. 

It should be added that, according to a popular 
idea, the presence of ghosts was announced, in by- 
gone years, by an alteration in the tint of the lights 
which happened to be burning — an item of folk-lore 
alluded to in ^Eichard III.' (Act v. sc. 3), where 
the tyrant exclaims as he awakens — • 


The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight, 
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh. 

Methought the souls of all that I had murder'd 
Came to my tent. 

So in 'Julius Csesar/ (Act iv. sc. 3), Brutus, on 
seeing the ghost of Caesar, exclaims : 

How ill this taper burns ! Ha ! Who comes here ? 

Phantom lights have also been associated with 
buildings, as in the case of the ancient chapel of 
Eoslin, founded in the year 1446 by William St. 
Clair, Prince of Orkney. It is believed that 
whenever any of the founder's descendants are 
about to depart this life, the chapel appears to be 
on fire, a weird and terrible occurrence graphically 
portrayed by Harold's song in *The Lay of the 
Last Minstrel': 

O'er Eoslin all that dreary night, 
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam ; 

'Twas broader than the watch-fire light, 
And redder than the bright moonbeam. 

It glared on Eoslin's castled rock, 
It ruddied all the copse-wood glen ; 

'Twas seen from Dryden's groves of oak, 
And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden. 


Seem'd all on fire that chapel proud, 
"^^lere Eoslin's chiefs uncofiin'd lie ; 

Each Baron, for a sable shroud, 
Sheathed in his iron panoply. 

Seem'd all on fire, within, around, 

Deep sacristy and altar's pale ; 
Shone every pillar foliage-bound, 

And glimmer' d all the dead men's mail. 

Blazed battlement and pinnet high, 
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair ; 

So still they blaze when fate is nigh. 
The lordly line of Hugh St. Clair. 

But notwithstanding the fact that the last 
' Eosliu,' as he was called, died in 1778, and the 
estates passed into the possession of the Erskines, 
Earls of Eosslyn, the old tradition has not yet 
been extinguished.^ Sir Walter Scott also tells us 
that the death of the head of a Highland family 
is sometimes announced by a chain of lights, of 
different colours, called Dr'eug, or death of the 
Druid. The direction which it takes is supposed to 
mark the place of the funeral.'- A correspondent of 
' Notes and Queries ' gives a curious account of a 

1 See Ingram's Haunted Homes, 2nd S. pp. 219-221. 

' See ' Essay on Fairy Superstitions ' in the Border Minstrelsy. 


house at Taunton which possessed ' a himinous 
chamber,* for, as common report said, ' the room 
had a light of its own.' As an eye-witness observed, 
* A central window was generally illuminated.' All 
the other windows were dark, but from this was a 
wan, dreary light visible ; and as the owners had 
deserted the place, and it had no occupant, the 
lighted window became a puzzle. 

With the North American tribes one form of 
spiritual manifestation is fire; and among the 
Hurons, a female spirit, who was supposed to cause 
much of their sickness, appeared like a flame of fire. 
Of the New England Indians it is related that 
'they have a remarkable observation of a flame 
that appears before the death of an Indian, upon 
their wigwams, in the dead of night. Whenever 
this appears, there will be a death.' ^ The Eskimos 
believe that the Inue, or powerful spirits, ' generally 
have the appearance of a fire or bright light, and 
to see them is very dangerous, particularly as fore- 
shadowing the death of a relation.' ^ 

' Eink's Tales and Traditions of the Eskimos, p. 43. 
- Josselyn's Tico Voyages, p. 133. 




Localities where any fatal accident has happened, 
or murder been committed, are frequently supposed 
to be haunted by that uncanny apparition known 
as * the headless ghost.' Many curious tales are 
still told by the peasantry of this mysterious 
spectre, w^hose w^eird movements have long been 
the subject of comment. Sir Walter Scott, it may 
be remembered, speaking of the Irish duUahan, 
writes : ' It puts me in mind of a spectre at Drum- 
lanrick Castle, of no less a person than the 
Duchess of Queensberry — ''Fair Kitty, blooming, 
young, and gay" — who, instead of setting fire to 
the world in mama's chariot, amuses herself with 
wheeling her own head in a wheelbarrow through 
the great gallery.' 

But it has often puzzled the folk-lorist why 


ghosts should assume this form, although the idea 
is by no means a modern one, for, as Dr. Tylor 
has pointed out,^ a people of wide celebrity are 
Pliny's Blemmyse, said ' to be headless, and accord- 
ingly to have their mouths and eyes in their 
breasts — creatures over whom Prester John reigned 
in Asia, and who dwelt far and wide in South 
America.' Stories, too, like that of St. Denis, who 
is said to have w^alked from Paris, sans tete, to the 
place which bears his name, show that the living, as 
well as the dead, occasionally managed to do without 
their heads — a strange peculiarity which Kornmann, 
in his * De Miraculis Yivorum,' would attempt to 
account for philosophically. Princess Marie Lich- 
tenstein, in her * History of Holland House,' tells 
us that one room of this splendid old mansion is 
beheved to be haunted by Lord Holland, the first 
of his name, and the chief builder of Holland 
House. To quote her words, ' The gilt room is said 
to be tenanted by the solitary ghost of its just lord, 
who, according to tradition, issues forth at mid- 
night from behind a secret door, and walks slowly 
through the scenes of former triumphs with his 

1 Primitive Culture, i. p. 390. 



head in his hand. To add to this mystery, there is 
a tale of three spots of blood on one side of the 
recess whence he issues — three spots which can 
never be effaced.' Such a strange act, on the part 
of the dead, is generally regarded as a very bad 
omen. The time of the headless ghost's appearance 
is always midnight, and in Crofton Croker's * Fairy 
Legends of Ireland ' it is thus described : 

'Tis midnight ; how gloomy and dark ! 

By Jupiter, there's not a star 1 
'Tis fearful ! 'tis awful ! and hark ! 

"What sound is that comes from afar ? 

A coach ! but the coach has no head ; 

And the horses are headless as it, 
Of the driver the same may be said, 

And the passengers inside who sit. 

According to the popular opinion, there is no 
authority to prove that headless people are unable 
to speak ; on the contrary, a variation of the story 
of * The Golden Mountain,' given in a note to the 
* Kindermarchen,' relates how a servant without a 
head informed the fisherman (who was to achieve 
the adventure) of the enchantment of the king's 
daughter, and of the mode of liberating her. There 


is the Belludo, a Spanish ghost mentioned ly 
Washington Irving in his ' Tales of the Alhambra.' 
It issues forth in the dead of night, and scours 
the avenues of the Alhambra, and the streets cf 
Granada, in the shape of a headless horse, pursued 
by six hounds, with terrible yellings and bowlings. 
It is said to be the spirit of a Moorish king, who 
killed his six sons, who, in revenge, hunt him in 
the shape of hounds at night-time. 

In some cases, as it has been humorously 
observed, the headless ghosts of well-known persons 
have continued to set up their carriage after death. 
Thus, for years past, it has been firmly believed 
that Lady Anne Boleyn rides down the avenue of 
Blickling Park once a year, with her bloody head 
in her lap, sitting in a hearse-like coach drawn by 
four headless horses, and attended by coachmen 
and attendants, who have, out of compliment to 
their mistress, also left their heads behind them. 
Nor, if tradition is to be believed, is her father 
more at rest than she, for Sir Thomas Boleyn is 
said to be obliged to cross forty bridges to avoid 
the torments of the furies. Like his daughter, he 
is reported to drive about in a coach and four with 



headless horses, carry mg his head under his arm.^ 
Young Lord Dacre, who is said to have been 
murdered at Thetford, through the contrivance of 
his guardian, Sir Eichard Fulmerston, in 1569, by 
the falKng of a wooden horse, purposely rendered 
insecure, used to prance up and down on the ghost 
of a headless rocking-horse. 

Another romantic story is told - of a large field 
at Great Melton, divided from the Tare by a 
plantation, along which the old Norwich road ran. 
* Close to the edge of where the road is said to have 
run is a deep pit or hole of water, locally reputed 
to be fathomless. Every night at midnight, and 
every day at noon, a carriage drawn by four horses, 
driven by headless coachmen and footmen, and 
containing four headless ladies in white, rises 
silently and dripping wet from the pool, flits stately 
and silently round the field, and sinks as silently 
into the pool again.' The story goes that long, 
long ago, a bridal party driving along the old 
Norwich Eoad were accidentally upset into the deep 
hole, and were never seen again. Strangely 

^ See The Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany, 1877, i. pp. 288, 
289. 2 Eastern Counties Collectanea, . 3. 


enough the same story is told of fields near Bury 
St. Edmunds, and at Leigh, Dorsetshire.^ Another 
Norfolk story, amusingly told by the late Cuthbert 
Bede,^ informs us how, ' on the anniversary of the 
death of the gentleman whose spectre he is sup- 
posed to be, his ghostship drives up to his old family 
mansion. He drives through the wall, carriage 
and horses and all, and is not seen again for a 
twelvemonth. He leaves, however, the traces of 
his visit behind him ; for, in the morning, the 
stones of the wall through which he had ridden 
over-night are found to be loosened and fallen ; 
and though the wall is constantly repaired, yet the 
stones are as constantly loosened.' In the little 
village of Acton, Suffolk, it was currently reported 
not many years ago that on certain occasions the 
park gates were wont to fly open at midnight 
* withouten hands,' and that a carriage drawn by 
four spectral horses, and accompanied by headless 
grooms and outriders, proceeded with great rapidity 
from the park to a spot called ' the nursery corner,' 

' See Notes and Queries, 1st S. xii. p. 486, for another hole or 
pit story. 

- The Curate of Cranston, and other Stories, 1862, • Carriage 
and Four Ghosts.' 


a spot where tradition affirms a very bloody 
engagement took place in olden times, when the 
Eomans were governors of England.^ A similar 
tale is related of Caistor Castle, the seat of 
the Falstofs, where the headless apparition drives 
round the courtyard, and carries away some 
unearthly visitors. 

At Beverley, in Yorkshire, the headless ghost of 
Sir Joceline Percy drives four headless horses at 
night, above its streets, passing over a certain 
house which was said to contain a chest with one 
hundred nails in it, one of which dropped out every 
year. The reason assigned for this nocturnal dis- 
turbance is attributed to the fact that Sir Joceline 
once rode on horseback into Beverley Minster. It 
has long been considered dangerous to meet such 
spectral teams, for fear of being carried off by them, 
so violent and threatening are their movements. 
In * Kambles in Northumberland ' we are told how, 
' when the death-hearse, drawn by headless horses, 
and driven by a headless driver, is seen about mid- 
night proceeding rapidly, but without noise, to- 
wards the churchyard, the death of some consider- 
' Notes and Queries, 1st S. v. p. 295. 


able personage in the parish is sure to happen at 
no distant period.' 

Night after night, too, when it is sufficiently 
dark, the headless coach whirls along the rough 
approach to LangleyHall, near Durham, drawn by 
black and fiery steeds ; and many years ago a head- 
less boggart was supposed to haunt Preston streets 
and neighbouring lanes. Its presence was often 
accompanied by the rattling of chains. It presently 
changed its form, and whether it appeared as a 
woman or a black dog, it was always headless. The 
story went that this uncanny apparition was at 
length ' laid ' by some magical or religious cere- 
mony in Walton churchyard.^ 

Many spots where suicides have been buried are 
supposed to be haunted by headless ghosts attired 
in white grave-clothes. Some few years ago, as a 
peasant was passing in a waggon with three horses 
a * four-lane-end ' in Lyneal Lane, Ellesmere, 
Shropshire, where a man was buried with a forked 
stake run through the body to keep it down, a 
woman was seen without a head. The horses took 
fright, and started off, overturning the waggon, and 
* KskidLmok^Q Traditions, Su2)erstitions, and Folk-lore, p. 130. 



pitching the man into the Drumby Hole, where 
the waggon and shaft-horse fell upon him. The 
other horses broke loose and galloped home, where 
they arrived covered with foam, and on a search 
being made, the dead body of the waggoner was 
found in the hole.^ Exactly twelve months after- 
wards, his son, it is said, was killed by the same 
horses on the same spot. As Miss Jackson points 
out, the headless ghost in this story is of a different 
sex from the person whose death is supposed to 
cause its restlessness. The same, she adds, is the 
case *with the ghost of the Mary Way, a now 
almost forgotten spectre of more than a hundred 
years ago. The figure of a woman in w'hite was 
supposed to haunt the spot where a murderer was 
buried — more probably a suicide — at the cross 
roads about two miles from Wenlock, on the Bridg- 
north road, which is known as the *'Mary Way," 
no doubt from some chapel, or processional route, 
in honour of the Virgin.' Another story is told of 
the Baschurch neighbourhood, where the ghost of 
a man who hanged himself at Nesscliff is to be seen 
* riding about in his tra^^ at night without a head.' 

* Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 112. 


A tragic case is recorded by Crofton Croker, 
who tells how, many years ago, a clergyman be- 
longing to St. Catharine's Church, Dublin, resided 
at the old Castle of Donore, in the vicinity of that 
city. From melancholy, or some other cause, he put 
an end to his existence by hanging himself out of a 
window near the top of the castle. After his death, a 
coach, sometimes driven by a coachman without a 
head, and occasionally drawn by headless horses, was 
observed at nighl; driving furiously by Eoper's Eest. 

Referring to spots where murders have taken 
place, a Shropshire tradition informs us how, at a 
certain house at Hampton's "Wood, near Ellesmere, 
six illegitimate children were murdered by their 
parents, and buried in a garden. But, soon after 
this unnatural event, a ghost in the form of a man, 
sometimes headless, at other times not so, haunted 
the stables, rode the horses to water, and talked 
to the waggoner. Once it appeared to a 3'oung 
lady who was passing on horseback, and rode before 
her on her horse. Eventually, after much difficulty, 
this troublesome ghost was laid, but ' the poor min- 
ister was so exhausted by the task that he died.' ^ 
* ShroiJsJiire Folk-lore, pp. 113, 114. 


There is a haunted room at Walton Ahbey 
frequented by a spectre known as ' The Headless 
Nun of Walton.' The popular belief is that this 
is the unquiet spirit of a transgressing nun of the 
twelfth century, but some affirm it to be that of a 
lady brutally beheaded in the seventeenth century.^ 
Another instance is that of Calverley Hall, in the 
same county. In ' The Yorkshireman ' for Janu- 
ary 5, 1884, the particulars of this strange ap- 
parition are given, from which it appears that 
Walter Calverley, on April 23, 1604, went into a fit 
of insane frenzy of jealousy, or pretended to do so. 
Money-lenders were pressing him hard, and he had 
become desperate. Bushing madly into the house, 
he plunged a dagger into one and then into another 
of his children, and then tried to take the life of 
their mother, a crime for which he was pressed to 
death at York Castle. But his spirit could not 
rest, and he was often seen galloping about the 
district at night on a headless horse, being generally 
accompanied by a number of followers similarly 

' A full account will be found in a paper by Mr. F. Eoss, in 
the Leeds Mercury, 1884, entitled ' Yorkshire Legends and Tra- 


mounted, who attempted to rmi down any poor 
benighted folks whom they chanced to meet. These 
spectral horsemen nearly always disappeared in 
a cave in the w^ood, but this cave has now been 
quarried away.^ 

It would seem that in years gone by one of the 
punishments assigned to evil doers guilty of a lesser 
crime than that of murder, was their ceaselessly 
frequenting those very spots where in their lifetime 
they had committed their wicked acts, carrying 
their heads under their arms. Numerous tales of 
this kind have been long current on the Continent, 
and at the present day are told by the simple- 
minded peasantry of many a German village with 
the most implicit faith. It is much the same in 
this country, and Mr. Henderson ^ has given several 
amusing anecdotes. At Dalton, near Thirsk, there 
was an old barn, said to be haunted by a headless 
woman. One night a tramp went into it to sleep ; at 
midnight he was awakened by a light, and, sitting 
up, he saw a woman coming towards him from the 
end of the barn, holding her head in her hands 

^ See Ingram's Haunted Homes, 2ncl S. pp. 72-78. 
* Folk-lore of the Northern Counties, pp. 326-328. 


like a lantern, with light streaming out of the eyes, 
nostrils, and mouth. Hunt, too, in his * Popular 
Eomances,' notices this superstition as existing in 
the West of England ; and Mrs. Latham, in her 
' Sussex Superstitions,' tells us how spirits are 
reported to walk about without their heads ; 
others carry them under their arms ; and one 
haunting a dark lane is said to have ' a ball of fire 
upon its shoulders in lieu of the natural finial.' 
At Haddington, Yv^orcestershire, there is an avenue 
of trees locally known as ' Lady "Winter's Walk,' 
where, it is said, the lady of Thomas Winter, who was 
obliged to conceal himself on account of his share in 
the Gunpowder Plot, was in the habit of awaiting 
her husband's further visits, and here the headless 
spectre of her ladyship used to be seen occasionally 
pacing up and down beneath the sombre shade of 
the aged trees. 

Lady Wilde ^ has given a laughable specimen of 
the headless ghost as believed in by the L'ish 
peasantry. One Denis Molony, a cow-jobber, was 
on his way to the great fair at Navan when he was 
overtaken by night. He laid down under a hedge, 

' Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland, pp. 1G3, 164. 


but * at that moment a loud moaning and scream- 
ing came to his ear, and a woman rushed past him 
all in white, as if a winding sheet were round her, 
and her cries of despair were terrible to hear. 
Then, after her, a great black coach came thunder- 
ing along the road, drawn by two black horses. 
But when Denis looked close at them he saw that the 
horses had no heads, and the coachman had no head ; 
and out sprang two men from the coach, and they 
had no heads either ; and they seized the woman and 
carried her by force into the carriage and drove off.' 
It appears that the woman Denis saw was ' an 
evil liver and a wicked sinner, and no doubt the 
devils were carrying her off from the churchyard, 
for she had been buried that morning. To make 
sure, they went next morning to the churchyard to 
examine the grave, and there, sure enough, was the 
coffin, but it was open, and not a trace of the dead 
woman was to be seen. So they knew that an evil 
fate had come on her, and that her soul was gone 
to eternal tortures.' * 

^ See notes to Crofton Croker's Fairy Legends and Traditions 
of the South of Ireland, where much curious information ^Yill be 
found on this subject. 


Connected also with the legend of the headless 
ghost is the old belief that persons prior to their 
death occasionally appear to their friends without 
their heads. Dr. Ferrier, in his * Theory of 
Apparitions,' tells of an old Northern chieftain 
who informed a relative of his * that the door of the 
room in which they and some ladies were sitting 
had appeared to open, and that a little woman 
without a head had entered the room ; and that 
the apparition indicated the sudden death of 
some person of his acquaintance.' The ' Glasgow 
Chronicle ' (January, 1826) records how, on the 
occasion of some silk-weavers being out of work, 
mourning-coaches drawn by headless horses were 
seen about the town ; and some years ago a very 
unpleasant kind of headless ghost used to drive 
every Saturday night through the town of Done- 
raile, Ireland, and to stop at the doors of different 
houses, when, if anyone were so foolhardy as to 
open the door, a basin of blood was instantly flung 
in his face. 




Departed souls, according to a Cornish piece of 
folk-lore, arc occasionally said to take the form of 
moths, and in Yorkshire, writes a correspondent 
of ' Notes and Queries,' ^ the country people used, 
and perhaps do still, call night-flying white moths, 
especially the Hepialus humuli, which feeds while 
in the gruh state on the roots of docks and other 
coarse plants, '' souls." ' By the Slavonians the 
butterfly seems to have been universally accepted 
as an emblem of the soul. Mr. Ealston, in his 
* Songs of the Eussian People ' (p. 117), says that 
in the Government of Yaroslaw one of its names 
is dushichkay a caressing diminutive of dusha, the 
soul. In that of Kherson it is believed that if the 
usual alms are not distributed at a funeral, the 
dead man's soul will reveal itself to its relatives in 


the form of a moth flying about the flame of a 
candle. The day after receiving such a ^varning 
visit they call together the poor and distribute food 
among them. In Bohemia there is a popular 
tradition that ii the first butterfly a man sees in 
the spring-time is a T^hite one, he is destined to die 
^\'ithin the year. According to a Servian belief, 
the soul of a ^itch often leaves her body while she 
is asleep, and flies abroad in the shape of a butter- 
fly. If, during its absence, her body be turned 
round, so that her feet are placed where her head 
was before, the soul will not be able to find her 
mouth, and so will be shut out from her body. 
Thereupon the witch will die. The Bulgarians 
believe that at death the soul assumes the form of 
a butterfly, and flits about on the nearest tree till 
the funeral is over. The Karens of Burma ' will run 
about pretending to catch a sick man's wandering 
soul, or, as they say with the ancient Greeks, his 
*' butterfly," and at last drop it down upon his 
head.' ^ The idea is an old one, and, as Gubernatis 
remarks in his 'Zoological Mythology' (ii. 213), 
* the butterfly was both a phallic symbol and a 
1 Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. p. 437. 


funereal one, with promises of resurrection and 
transformation ; the souls of the departed were 
represented in the forms of butterflies carried 
towards Elysium by the dolphin.' According to 
another belief, the soul was supposed to take 
the form of a bee, an old tradition telling us 
that * the bees alone of all animals descended 
from Paradise.' In the Engadine, in Switzer- 
land, it is believed that the souls of men emigrate 
from the world and return to it in the forms of 
bees. In this district bees are considered mes- 
sengers of death. When someone dies, the bee is in- 
voked as follows, ' almost as if requesting the soul 
of the departed,' says De Gubernatis, * to watch for 
ever over the living ' : ^ 

Bienchen, unser Herr ist todt, 
Verlass mich nicht in meiner Koth. 

In Kussia gnats and flies are often looked upon 
as equally spiritual creatures. * In Little Kussia,' 
says Mr. Ealston,^ < the old women of a family will 
often, after returning from a funeral, sit up all 
night watching a dish in which water and honey 

* Zoological Mythology, ii. p. 218. 
' Folk-songs of tlis Russian People, p. 118. 



in it have been placed, in the belief that the spirit 
of their dead relative will come in the form of a 
flv, and sip the proffered liquid.' 

Among North American tribes we are told how 
the Ojibways believe that innumerable spirits 
appear in the varied forms of insect life/ while 
some tribes supposed that ' most souls went to a 
common resort near their living habitat, but re- 
turned in the daytime in the shape of flies in 
order to get something to eat.' ^ 

^ Dorman's Primitive Suiter stitions, p. 23. 
- Ibid. p. 42. 




The trade of raising spirits has j)robably existed 
at all times in which superstition has been suffi- 
ciently prevalent to make such a practice a source 
of power or of profit, and nations — the most 
polished as well as the most barbarous — have 
admitted the claims of persons who j)rofessed to 
be able to control spirits. One of the most graphic 
illustrations of an incantation for evoking spirits 
is in connection with the appearance of the shade 
of Darius in the * Persae ' of iEschylus, which is 
very nobly given. After receiving news of the 
great defeat of her son Xerxes at Salamis, Atossa 
has prepared the requisite offerings tj the dead — 
milk from a white cow, honey, water from a pure 
fountain, unadulterated wine, olives, and flowers — 
and she instructs the ancient counsellors of the 

M 2 


deceased king to evoke his shade. They who form 
the tragic chorus commence an incantation from 
which we quote the following : 

Royal lady, Persia's pride, 
Thine offerings in earth's chamber hide ; 
We, meanwhile, with hymns will sue 
The powers who guard hell's shadowy crew. 
Till they to our wish incline. 
Gods below, ye choir divine, 
Earth, Hermes, and thou King of night. 
Send his spirit forth to light ! 
If he knows worse ills impending, 
He alone can teach their ending. 
&c., &c., &c. 

The incantation is successful, but Darius 
assures his friends that exit from below is far 
from eas}^ and that the subterranean gods are far 
more willing to take than to let go. Indeed, the 
raising of spirits was a trick of magic much in 
use in ancient times, and the scene that took 
place at Endor when Saul had recourse to a 
professor of the art is familiar to all. The 
Egyptian magicians, Simon Magus, and Elymas 
the sorcerer, all, it is said, exhibited such corporeal 
deceptions. Tertullian, in his tract ' De Anima,' 
inquires whether a departed soul, either at his 


own will, or in obedience to the command of 
another, can return from the ' Inferi ' ? After 
discussing the subject, he sums up thus : ' If 
certain souls have been recalled into their bodies 
by the power of God, as manifest proof of His 
prerogative, that is no argument that a similar 
power should be conferred on audacious magicians, 
fallacious dreamers, and licentious poets.' 

Among certain Australian tribes the necro- 
mants are called Birraark. It is said that a 
Birraark was supposed to be initiated by the 
' mrarts ' (ghosts) when they met him wandering 
in the bush. It was from the ghosts that he 
obtained replies to questions concerning events 
passing at a distance, or yet to happen, which 
might be of interest or moment to his tribe. An 
account of a spiritual seance in the bush is given 
in * Kamilaroi and Kurnai ' (p. 254) : ' The fires 
were let down ; the Birraark uttered the cry 
" Coo-ee " at intervals. At length a distant reply 
was heard, and shortly afterwards the sound as of 
persons jumping on the ground in succession. A 
voice was then heard in the gloom asking in a 
strange intonation, "What is wanted?" At the 


termination of the seance, the spirit voice said, 
" We are going." Finally, the Birraark was found 
in the top of an almost inaccessible tree, apparently 

In Japan, ghosts can be raised in various ways. 
One mode is to 'put into an andon' (a paper 
lantern in a frame) 'a hundred rushlights, and 
repeat an incantation of a hundred lines. One of 
these rushlights is taken out at the end of each 
line, and the would-be ghost-seer then goes out in 
the dark with one light still burning, and blows it 
out, when the ghost ought to appear. Girls who 
have lost their lovers by death often try that 
sorcery.' ^ 

Shakespeare has several allusions to the popular 
belief of certain persons being able to exorcise, 
or raise, spirits, and he represents Ligarius, in 

* Julius Csesar ' (iv. 2) as saying : 

Soul of Home ! 
Brave son, derived from honourable loins ! 
Thou, like an exorcist, has conjured up 
My mortified spirit. Now bid me run, 
And I will strive with things impossible ; 
Yea, get the better of them. 

^ Miss Bird's Unbeaten Tracks in Ja;pan, i. p. 380. 

EAisma G-HOSTS 167 

In days gone by, it would seem, numerous for- 
malities were observed by the person vvhose object 
was to ' constrain ' some spirit to appear before 
him. It was necessary to fix upon a spot proper 
for such a purpose, ' which had to be either in a 
subterranean vault hung round with black, and 
lighted by a magical torch, or else in the centre of 
some thick wood or desert, or upon some exten- 
sive unfrequented plain, where several roads met, 
or amidst the ruins of ancient castles, abbeys, 
monasteries, &c., or amongst the rocks on the 
sea-shore, in some private detached church^-ard, 
or any other solemn melancholy place, between the 
hours of twelve and one in the morning, either 
when the moon shone very bright, or else vrhen 
the elements were disturbed with storms of thunder, 
lightning, wind, and rain, for in these places, times, 
and seasons it was contended that spirits could with 
less difficulty manifest themselves to mortal eyes, 
and continue visible with the least pain in this 
elemental external vrorld.' ^ Great importance was 
attached to the magic circle in the invocation of 
spirits, the mode of procedure being thus : ' A piece 
' Occult Sciences, 1855, Elihu Eicli, p. 188. 


of ground was usually chosen, nine feet square, 
at the full extent of which parallel lines were 
drawn, one within the other, having sundry crosses 
and triangles described between them, close to 
which was formed the first or outer circle ; then, 
about half a foot within the same, a second circle was 
described, and within that another square correspon- 
dent to the first, the centre of which was the spot 
where the master and associate were to be placed. 
The vacancies formed by the various lines and 
angles of the figure were filled up by the holy names 
of God, having crosses and triangles described 
between them. . . . The reason assigned for the use of 
circles was, that so much ground being blessed and 
consecrated by such holy words and ceremonies as 
they made use of in forming it, had a secret force 
to expel all evil spirits from the bounds thereof, and 
being sprinkled with pure sanctified water, the 
ground was purified from all uncleanness ; besides, 
the holy names of God being written over every 
part of it, its force became so powerful that no 
evil spirits had ability to break through it, or to get 
at the magician and his companion, by reason of 
the antipathy in nature they bore to these sacred 


names. And the reason given for the triangles 
was, that if the spirit was not easily brought to 
speak the truth, they might by the exorcist be con- 
jured to enter the same, where, by virtue of the 
names of the essence and divinity of God, they 
could speak nothing but ^)'hat was true and right.' ^ 
We are further informed, that if the ghost of a de- 
ceased person was to be raised, the grave had to 
be resorted to at midnight, when a special form 
of conjuration was deemed necessary; and there 
was another for ' any corpse that hath hanged, 
drowned, or otherwise made away with itself.' 
And in this case, it is added, ' the conjurations 
are performed over the body, which will at last 
arise, and, standing upright, answer with a faint 
and hollow voice the questions that are put 
to it.' 

The mode of procedure as practised in Scotland 
was thus. The haunted room was made ready. 
He * who was to do the daring deed, about nightfall 
entered the room, bearing with him a table, a chair, 

^ For works on this subject may be consulted, Colin de 
Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal-, the Malleus Maleficarum of the 
Germans ; Del Eio's Disqiiisiiiones Magicce ; and Occult Sciences, 
paper by Elihu Rich, pp. 189-191. 


a candle, a eomi3ass, a crucifix if one could be got, 
and a Bible. With the compass he cast a circle on 
the middle of the floor, large enough to hold the 
chair and the table. He placed within the circle 
the chair and the table, and on the table he laid 
the Bible and the crucifix beside the lighted candle. 
If he had not a crucifix, then he drew the figure of 
a cross on the floor within the circle. When all 
this was done, he seated himself on the chair, 
opened the Bible, and waited for the coming of the 
spirit. Exactly at midnight the spirit came. 
Sometimes the door opened slowly, and there glided 
in noiselessly a lady sheeted in white, with a face of 
woe, and told her story to the man on his asking 
her in the name of God what she wanted. What 
she wanted was done in the morning, and the 
sj)irit rested ever after. Sometimes the sjDirit rose 
from the floor, and sometimes came forth from the 
wall. One there was who burst into the room with 
a strong bound, danced wildly round the circle, 
and flourished a long whip round the man's head, 
but never dared to step within the circle. During 
a pause in his frantic dance he was asked, in God's 
name, what he wanted. He ceased his dance and 


told his wishes. His wishes were carried out, and 
the spirit was in peace.' ^ 

In Wraxall's ' Memoirs of the Courts of Berlin, 
Dresden, Warsaw, and Vienna ' ^ there is an amusing 
account of the raising of the ghost of the Chevalier 
de Saxe. Reports had been circulated that at his 
palace at Dresden there was secreted a large sum 
of money, and it was urged that if his spirit could 
be compelled to appear, that interesting secret 
might be extorted from him. Curiosity, combined 
with avarice, accordingly prompted his principal 
heir. Prince Charles, to try the experiment, and on 
the appointed night, Schrepfer was the operator in 
raising the apparition. He commenced his pro- 
ceedings by retiring into a corner of the gallery, 
where, kneeling down with many mysterious cere- 
monies, he invoked the spirit to appear. At length 
a loud clatter was heard at all the windows on the 
outside, resembling more the effect produced by a 
number of wet fingers drawn over the edge of 
glasses than anything else to which it could well 
be compared. This sound announced the arrival 

Gregor, Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland, pp. 68, 69. 
1799, i. p. 281. 


of the good spirits, and was shortly followed by a 
yell of a frightful and unusual nature, which indi- 
cated the presence of malignant spirits. Schrepfer 
continued his invocations, when ' the door suddenly 
opened with violence, and something that resembled 
a black ball or globe rolled into the room. It was 
enveloped in smoke or cloud, in the midst of 
which appeared a human face, like the countenance 
of the Chevalier de Saxe, from which issued a loud 
and angry voice, exclaiming in German, " Carl, was 
wollte du mit mich?" — Charles, what w^ould thou 
do with me ? ' By reiterated exorcisms Schrepfer 
finally dismissed the apparition, and the terri- 
fied spectators dispersed, fully convinced of his 
magical powers.^ Eoscoe has given an interesting 
account^ of Benvenuto Cellini's experiences of 
raising spirits by incantation, but the Sicilian priest 
who acquainted him with the mysteries of his art 
of necromancy, as it has been remarked, had far 
greater knowledge of 'chemistry and pharmacy 
than he required for his thurible or incense pot.' 
His accomplices, of course, could see and report 

' See ' Ghosts and Ghost-lore,' Leisure Hour, 1871, pp. 334- 
766. - Life of Benvenuto Cellini. 


sights of any wonderful kind. Those who pene- 
trate into 'magic circles may expect startling 
sights, overpowering smells, strange sounds, and 
even demoniacal dreams.' Instances, it is stated, 
are recorded of many who perished by raising up 
spirits, particularly * Chiancungi,' the famous 
Egyptian fortune-teller, who was so famous in 
England in the seventeenth century. He under- 
took for a wager to raise up the spirit ' Bokim,' 
and having described the circle, he seated his sister 
Napula by him as his associate. * After frequently 
repeating the form of exorcism, and calling upon 
the spirit to appear, and nothing as yet answering 
his demand, they grew impatient of the business, 
and quitted the circle ; but it cost them their lives, 
for they were instantaneously seized and crushed to 
death by that infernal spirit, who happened not to 
be sufficiently constrained till that moment to mani- 
fest himself to human eyes.' 

Among the many curious stories told of ghost- 
raising may be mentioned a somewhat whimsical one 
related by a correspondent of a Bradford paper, who 
tells how, in his youthful days, he assisted in an 
attempt to raise the ghost of the wicked old squire 


of Calverley Hall. * About a dozen scholars/ to 
quote his words, * used to assemble close to the 
venerable church of Calverley, and then put their 
hats and caps on the ground, in a pyramidal form. 
Then taking hold of each other's hands, they formed 
a ** magic circle," holding firmly together, and 
making use of an old refrain ; 

Old Calverley, old Calverley, I have thee by the ears, 
I'll cut thee into coUops, unless thee appears. 

Whilst this incantation was going on, crumbs of 
bread mixed with pins were strewn on the ground, 
the lads meanwhile tramping round in the circle with 
a heavy tread. Some of the more venturesome 
boys had to go round to each of the church doors, 
and whistle aloud through the keyholes, repeating 
the magic couplet which their comrades in the circle 
were chanting. But, at this critical point, a pale 
and ghostly figure was expected to appear, and, 
on one occasion, some kind of apparition is said to 
have issued forth from the church, the lads in their 
terrified haste making their escape as quickly as 
they could.' 

In the search after the philosopher's stone, and 


elixir of life, the most revolting ingredients ^Yere 
turned to use, such as blood and dead men's bones, 
but occasionally with unexpected results. On one 
occasion, for instance, three alchemists obtained 
some earth mould from St. Innocent's Church, 
Paris, thinking that from it might be extracted the 
philosopher's stone. But, after subjecting it to 
distillation, they perceived in their receivers forms of 
men produced which caused them to desist from 
their labours. The Paris Institute took up the 
matter, and the result of th^ir inquiries appears in 
the ^Miscellanea Curiosa.' An abstract of one of 
these French documents was pubHshed by Dr. 
Ferrier in the ' Manchester Philosophical Trans- 
actions,' which we quote below : 

' A malefactor was executed, of whose body a 
grave physician got possession for the purpose of 
dissection. After disposing of the other parts of 
the body, he ordered his assistant to pulverise a 
part of the cranium, which was a remedy at that 
time administered in dispensaries. The powder was 
left in a paper on the table in the museum, where the 
assistant slept. About midnight he was awakened 
by a noise in the room, which obliged him to rise 


immediately. The noise continued about the table 
without any visible agent, and at length he traced 
it to the powder, in the midst of which he now 
beheld, to his unspeakable dismay, a small head, 
with large eyes, staring at him. Presently two 
branches appeared, which formed into arms and 
hands. Next the ribs became visible, which were 
soon clothed with muscles and integuments. Next 
the lower extremities sprouted out, and, when they 
appeared perfect, the puppet (for his size was small) 
reared himself on his feet ; instantly his clothes 
came upon him, and he appeared in the very cloak 
he wore at his execution. The affrighted spectator, 
who stood hitherto mumbling his prayers with great 
application, was simply awe-struck ; but still greater 
was his bewilderment when the apparition planted 
himself in his way, and after divers fierce looks and 
threatening gestures, opened the door and went out. 
No doubt the powder was missing next day.' 

A similar strange experience is recorded by Dr. 
Webster in his book on witchcraft, on the authority 
of Dr. Flud, the facts of which were thus : 

' A certam chemical operator, named La Pierre, 
received blood from the hands of a certain bishop 


to operate upon, which he, setting to work upon 
the Saturday, did continue it for a week, with divers 
degrees of fire. But about midnight the Friday 
following, this artificer, lying in a chamber next to 
his laboratory, betwixt sleeping and waking, heard 
a horrible noise like unto the lowing of kine or the 
roaring of a lion ; and continuing quiet, after the 
ceasing of the sound in the laboratory, the moon 
being at the full, and by shining enlightening the 
chamber, suddenly, betwixt himself and the window 
he saw a thick little cloud condensed into an oval 
form, which after, by little and little, did seem 
completely to put on the shape of a man, and 
making another and sharp clamour did suddenly 
vanish. And not only some noble persons in the 
next chambers, but also the host and his wife, lying 
in a lower room of the house, and also the neigh- 
bours dwelling on the opposite side of the street, 
did distinctly hear the bellowing as well as the 
voice, and some of them were awakened with the 
vehemence thereof. But the artificer said that in 
this he found solace, because the bishop from 
whom he had it did admonish him that if any 
of them from whom the blood was extracted 
should die in the time of its putrefaction, his spirit 


was "wont often to appear to the sight of the arti- 
ficer with perturbation. Also forthwith, upon the 
Saturday following, he took the retort from the 
furnace and broke it with the slight stroke of a 
little key, and there, in the remaining blood, found 
the perfect representation of a human head, agree- 
able in face, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and hairs, that 
were somewhat thin and of a golden colour.' Web- 
ster adds : ' There were many ocular witnesses, as the 
noble person Lord of Bourdalone, the chief secretary 
to the Duke of Guise, and he (Flud) had this relation 
from the Lord of Menanton, living in that house 
at the same time, from a certain doctor of physic, 
from the owner of the house, and many others.' 

In recent years the so-called spiritualism has 
attracted much attention, and * as of old, men live 
now in habitual intercourse with the spirits of the 
dead. . . . The spirits of the living as well as of 
the dead, the souls of Strauss and Carl Yogt as 
well as of Augustine and Jerome, are summoned 
by mediums to distant spirit-circles.' ^ But for 
further information on this subject reports of the 
Psychical Eesearch Society should be consulted. ^ 

^ Tylor's Primitive Ctdture, i. p. 143. 
2 See also Beal Ghost Stories. Edited by W. T. Stead. 




In his amusing account of the art of ' laying ' ghosts, 
pubHshed in the last century, Grose tells us * a 
ghost may be laid for any term less than a hundred 
years, and in any place or body, full or empty ; as 
a solid oak, the pommel of a sword, a barrel of beer, 
if a yeoman or simple gentleman ; or a pipe of 
wine, if an esquire or a justice.' But this, as Dr. 
Tylor writes,^ ' is one of the many good instances 
of articles of serious savage belief surviving as jests 
among civilised men.' However whimsical the 
idea of laying a ghost may seem to the prosaic 
mind, an inquiry into the history of human belief 
shows how widely this expedient has been resorted 
to in times past, although St. Chrysostom is said 

' Priviitive Ctilttire, ii. p. 153. 

N 2 


to have insulted some African conjurors of old with 
this quaint and humiliating observation : ' Miserable 
and woful creatures that we are, we cannot so 
much as expel fleas, much less devils.' 

It was not so very long ago that, at the trial of 
Laurie for the murder of Mr. Eose,^ Sergeant 
Munro, on being asked by the Dean of Faculty a 
question as to the disappearance of the murdered 
man's boots, replied that he believed they had been 
buried on the beach at Corne, below high-water 
mark. This curious ceremony seems to have been 
adopted by the Highland police, with the intention 
of laying Mr. Eose's ghost — an object which, ac- 
cording to tradition, might be attained by burying 
his boots under water. The exj)edient resorted to 
by the Highland police was founded not upon any 
inadequate estimate of the powers of ghosts, but 
upon an intimate knowledge of their likes and dis- 
likes. They are known to entertain a strong ob- 
jection to water, an antipathy which is sufficiently 
strong to make them shun a spot on which water 

1 See Daily Telegraph, Nov. 17, 1890. Article on * Ghost 
Laying.' Burns's ' Tarn o' Shanter ' turns on this point, and it is 
noticed by Sir Walter Scott in ' The Lay of the Last Minstrel ' 
(Canto III. Stanza 13) : ' The running stream dissolv'd the spell.' 


is to be found; in fact, as Mr. Hunt writes/ spirits 
are supposed to be unable to cross water. 

A story is told of ' Dary Pit,' Shropshire, a dis- 
mal pool, which was a much dreaded spot, because 
it was said spirits were laid under the water, and 
might, it seems, in spite of being so laid, walk abroad. 

This belief may be traced in various parts of 
the world, and * one of the most striking ways,' 
writes Mr. James G. Frazer,^ * of keeping down 
the dead man is to divert the course of a river, 
bury him in its bed, and then allow the river to 
resume its course. It was thus that Alaric was 
buried, and Commander Cameron found the same 
mode of burial in vogue amongst a tribe in Central 

Among the Tipperahs of Chittagong, if a man 
dies away from home, his friends stretch a thread 
over all the intermediate streams, so that the spirit 
of the dead man may return to his own village ; 
' it being supposed that,^ without assistance, spirits 
are unable to cross runningwater,' and hence streams 
are occasionally bridged over in the manner afore - 

' Romances of West of England, p. 470. 
^ ContemiJorary Review, xlviii. p. 107. 
' Lewin, Hill Tracts of Chittagong, p. 84. 


said.^ A somewhat similar idea prevails among the 
Fijians, and we are told how those who have reason 
to suspect others of plotting against them occasion- 
ally ' build themselves a small house, and surround 
it with a moat, believing that a little v^ater will 
neutralise the charms which are directed ' to hurt 

The idea of water as a barrier against ghosts 
has given rise to many strange customs, some of 
which Mr. Frazer quotes in his paper on ' The 
Primitive Ghost.' ^ Among the Metamba negroes, 
a woman is bound hand and foot by the priest, who 
flings her into the water several times over with 
the intention of drowning her husband's ghost, who 
may be supposed to be chnging to his unfeeling 
spouse. A similar practice exists in Angola, and 
In New Zealand those who have attended a funeral 
plunge several times into the nearest stream. In 
Tahiti, all who assisted at a burial plunged into the 
sea ; and in some parts of West Africa, after the 
corpse has been deposited in the grave, ' all the 

* See Sir John Lubbock, Origin of Civilisation and Primitive 
Condition of Man, 1870, p. 145. 
- Fiji and the Fijians, i. p. 248. 
' Contemporary Revieio slviii. p. 113. 


bearers rush to the waterside and undergo a 
thorough abkition before they are permitted to 
return to the town.' 

According to Mr. Ealston, the Lusatian Wends 
place water between themselves and the dead as 
they return from a burial, even, if necessary, break- 
ing ice for the purpose. And ' in many parts of 
Germany, in modern Greece, and in Cyprus, water 
is poured out behind the corpse when it is carried 
from the house, in the belief that if the ghost returns 
he will not be able to cross it.' ^ A Danish tradition 
says, * If a person dies who, it is feared, will reap- 
pear, as a preventive let a basinful of water be thrown 
after the corpse when it is carried out ' ^ and there 
will be no further cause of alarm. In Bohemia, 
after a death, the water-butt is turned upside down, 
for if the ghost bathe in it, and anyone should 
happen to drink of it afterwards, he would be a dead 
man within the year. In Pomerania, after a funeral, 
no washing is done for some time, lest the dead man 
should be wet in his grave. 

Drake, in his legends of New England, alludes 

^ Folk-songs of Russia, p. 320. 

2 Thorpe's Northern MytJwlogy, ii. p. 275. 


to a story of a wreck at Ipswich, and says that, 
when the storms come, the howHng of the wind is 
* Harry Main ' — a legend which has thus heen 
versified by A. Morgan : 

He blasphemed God, so they put him down, 
With his iron shovel at Ipswich Bar, 
They chained him there for a thousand years, 
And the sea rolls up, to shovel it back. 
So when the sea cries, the good wives say, 
' Harry Main growls at his work to-day.' 

Similarly the Chibchas in their mythology had 
a great river that souls had to pass over on floats 
made of cobw^ebs. On this account they never 
killed spiders. The Araucanian soul is borne across 
the Stygian flood by a whale, and the Potawatomis 
think * the souls of the dead cross a large stream 
over a log, which rolls so that many slip off into the 
water. One of their ancestors went to the edge of 
the stream, but, not liking to venture on the log, 
he came back two days after his death. He re- 
ported that he heard the sounds of the drum on 
the other side of the river, to the beat of which the 
souls of the dead were dancing.' ^ The Ojibways 

' Dorman's Primitive Su^erstitio7is, p. 37. 


speak of a similar stream, across which Hes a 
serpent, over whose body the soul must cross. 

A favourite mode of capturing a ghost in days 
gone by was to entice it into something small, such 
as a bottle, and as a decoy, to doubt its power to 
do so— a mode of exorcism which would seem to 
have suggested our * bottle-imps.' An amusing 
story of laying a ghost by this means, and which 
illustrates the i^opular belief, is recorded in the 
' Folk-lore Record ' (ii. 176), on the authority of the 
late Thomas Wright. ' There lived in the town of 

, in that part of England which lies towards 

the borders of Wales, a very curious simple kind of 
a man, though all said he knew a good deal more 
than other people did not know. There was in the 
same town a very old house, one of the rooms of 
which was haunted by a ghost, which prevented 
people making use of it. The man above mentioned 
was reported to be very clever at dealing with 
ghosts, and so the owner of the haunted house sent 
for him, and asked him if he could undertake to 
make the ghost quit the house. Tommy, for that 
was the name he generally went by, agreed to do 
this, on condition that three things were provided 


him — an empty bottle, a bottle of brandy with a 
tumbler, and a pitcher of water. So Tommy locked 
the door safely inside, and sat down to j)ass the 
night drinking brandy and water. 

* Just as the clock struck twelve, he was roused 
by a slight noise, and lo ! there was the ghost 
standing before him. Says the ghost, *'Well, 
Tommy, how are ye? " ''Pretty well, thank ye," says 
he, " but pray, how do you know my name ? " ''Oh, 
very well indeed," said the ghost. " And how did 
you get in ? " " Oh, very easily." " Not through the 
door, I'm sure." " No, not at all, but through the 
keyhole." " D'ye say so ? None of your tricks upon 
me ; I won't believe you came through the keyhole." 
" Won't ye? but I did." "Well, then," says Tommy, 
pointing to the empty bottle, which he pretended to 
have emptied, " if you can come through the keyhole 
you can get into this bottle, but I won't believe joii 
can do either." Now the ghost began to be very 
angry that Tommy should doubt his power of getting 
into the bottle, so he asserted most confidently that 
the thing was easy to be done. " No," said Tommy, 
" I won't beheve it till I have seen you get in." 
*' Here goes then," said the ghost, and sure enough 


into the bottle he -went, and Tommy corked him' up 
quite tight, so that he could not get out, and he 
took the bottle to the bridge where the river was 
wide and deep, and he threw the bottle exactly over 
the keystone of the middle arch into the river, and 
the ghost was never heard after.' 

This cunning mode of laying a ghost is very old, 
and reminds us of the amusing story of the fisher- 
man and the genie in the Arabian Nights. The j 
tale tells how, one day, a fisherman drew a brazen ; 
bottle out of the sea, sealed with the magic seal of i 
Suleyman Ben Daood, out of which there issued an ■ 
enormous genie, who threatened the fisherman with 
death. The latter, feeling his life was at stake, 
bethought him of doubting the genie's ability to 
enter so small a vessel, whereupon the affronted 
genie returned thither to vindicate his character, 
and so placed himself in the fisherman's power. 
In the same way a Bulgarian sorcerer armed with 
a saint's picture will hunt a vampire into a bottle 
containing some of the food that the demon loves ; 
as soon as he is fairly inside, he is corked down, 
the bottle is thrown into the fire, and the vampire 
disappears for ever. 



r Miss Jackson ^ quotes a story from Montgomery- 
shire, of how the spirit of Lady Jeffreys, who for 
some reason could not rest in peace, and * troubled 
people dreadfully,' was * persuaded to contract her 
dimensions and enter a bottle. She did so, after 
appearing in a good many hideous forms ; but when 
once in the bottle it was corked down securely, and 
the bottle was thrown into the pool underneath the 
Short Bridge, over the Severn, in Llanidloes ; and 
in the bottle she was to remain until the ivy that 
crept along the buttresses overgrew the sides of the 
bridge and reached the top of the parapet ; then 
when this took place she should be released from 
her bottle prison.' In the ' Collectanea ArchpBolo- 
gica ' (vol. i. part 1) we are told on the authority of 
one Sarah Mason, of Baschurch, that ' there was a 
woman hanged on a tree at Cutberry, and she came 
again so badly that nine clergymen had to be fetched 
to lay her. So they read and read until they got 
her into a bottle, and they buried it under a flat 
sandstone in the road. We used to go past the 
stone every time we w^ent to church, and I've often 
wondered if she was still there, and what would 
' SJt>ro2:)shire Folk-lore, pp. liO, lil. 


happen if anyone was to pull the stone up.' And as 
a further safeguard a correspondent of * Notes and 
Queries,' writing from Ecclesfield, says it is best in 
laying ghosts to cheat them to consent to being 
laid ^Yhile hollies are green, for hollies being ever- 
green, the ghost can reappear no more. 

In Wales, the objectionable spectre must be con- 
jured in the name of Heaven to depart, and return 
no more, the strength of the exorcism being doubled 
by employing the Latin language to deliver it, which, 
to be perfectly effectual, must be done by three 
clergymen. The exorcism is usually for a stated 
time, seven years is the favourite period, and one 
hundred years the limit. Instances are recorded 
where a ghost which had been laid a hundred years 
returned at the end of the time to its old haunts. 
According to Mr. Wirt Sikes/ 'in all cases it is 
necessary the ghost should agree to be exorcised ; 
no power can lay it if it be possessed of an evil 
demon. In such cases the terrors of Heaven must 
be rigorously invoked, but the result is only tem- 
porary. Properly constituted family ghosts, how- 
ever, will lend a reasonable ear to entreaty backed 

by prayer.' 

' British Goblins, p. IGo. 


Candles have generally played an important 
part in the ceremony of ghost laying, one popular 
idea being that ghosts have no power by candle- 
light. Thus, in many tales, the ghost is cheated 
into a promise not to return till the candle is burnt 
out, whereupon the crafty parson immediately blows 
it out, throwing it into a pond, or burying it in the 
earth. The belief is an old one, for, in one of the 
Sagas quoted by Mr. Baring-Gould,^ the tomb- 
breaking hero finds an old Viking sitting in his 
dragon-ship, with his five hundred comrades 
motionless about him. He is about to depart, 
after possessing himself of the dead man's treasures, 
when the taper goes out, whereupon they all rise 
and attack the intruder, who barely escapes by 
invoking St. Olaf s aid. In all Shropshire stories, 
we are told that the great point is to keep the 
candles lighted in spite of the ghost's utmost efforts 
to blow them out ; an amusing instance being that 
of the Bagbury ghost, which appeared in the shape 
of a bull, and was so troublesome that twelve 
parsons were required to lay it. The story goes 
that they got him into Hyssington Church ; * they 
1 Shropshire Folk-lore, pp. 138, 139. 


all had candles, and one blind old parson, who 
knowed him, and knowed what a rush he ^YOuld 
make, he carried his candle in his top-boot. And 
he made a great rush, and all the candles went out, 
all but the blind parson's, and he said, ^' You light 
your candles by mine." ' 

Miss Jackson also tells ^ how ' Squire Blount's 
ghost ' long haunted Kinlet Hall, because his 
daughter had married a page-boy. At last it was 
found necessary to pull down Kinlet Old Hall, and 
to build it again on a fresh site, * for he would even 
come into the room where they were at dinner, and 
drive his coach and four white horses across the 
dinner table.' But ' at last they got a number of 
parsons together and lighted candles, and read and 
read till all the candles were burnt out but one, 
and so they quieted him, and laid him in the sea. 
There was, it is reported, a little bottle under his 
monument in Kinlet Church, and if that were 
• broken he would come again. It is a little flat 
bottle seven or eight inches long, with a glass 
stopper in it, which nobody could get out ; and if 
anyone got hold of it, the remark was made, *'Take 

^ Shro2)shire Folk-lore, pp. 122, 123. 


care as you dunna let that fall, for if it breaks, old 
Blount will come again." ' 

According to Mr. Henderson^ there was a house 
in a village of Arkingarthdale which had long been 
haunted by a bogle. At last the owner adopted the 
following plan for expelling it. Opening the Bible, 
he placed it on a table with a lighted candle, and 
said aloud to the bogle, ' Noo thoo can read or 
dance, or dea as ta likes.' He then turned round 
and walked upstairs, when the bogle, in the form 
of a grey cat, flew past and vanished in the air. 
Years passed without its being seen again, but one 
day he met it on the stairs, and he was that day 
killed in the mines. 

At Leigh, Worcestershire, a spectre known as 
* Old Coles ' formerly appeared, and would drive a 
coach and four over the great barn at Leigh Court, 
and then cool the fiery nostrils of his steeds in the 
waters of the Teme. This perturbed spirit was at 
length laid in a neighbouring pool by twelve parsons 
at midnight, by the light of an inch of candle; and 
as he was not to rise again until the candle was 

' FolJc-lorc of Nortlicrn Counties, p. 247, 


quite burnt out, it was thrown into the pool, and 
to make all sure, the pool was filled up. 

And peaceful ever after slept 
Old Coles's shade.* 

But sometimes, when the candles burn out their 
time, it is an indication that none of the party can 
lay the ghost, as happened in the case of a certain 
Dartmoor vicar's unquiet spirit described by Mr. 
Henderson.^ * A jury of seven parsons was convoked 
to lay it, and each sat for half an hour with a candle 
in his hand, but it burned out its time with each. 
The spirit could afford to defy them ; it was not 
worth his while to blow their candles out. But the 
seventh parson was a stranger and a scholar fresh 
from Oxford. In his hand the light went out at 
once. He was clearly the man to lay the ghost ; he 
laid it at once, and in a beer-barrel.' 

According to another way of ejecting or laying 
ghosts, there must be two or three clergymen, and 
the ceremony must be performed in the Latin 
language, which, it is said, will strike the most 
audacious ghost with terror. Allan Eamsay men- 

' Jabez Allies, Worcestershire. 

' Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 337. 



tions, as common in Scotland, the vulgar notion 
that a ghost cannot be laid till some priest speaks 
to it, and ascertains what prevents it from resting. 

For well we wat it is his ghaist 
Wow, wad some folk that can do't best, 
Speak tol't, and hear what it confest. 
To send a wand'ring saul to rest 

'Tis a good deed 

Amang the dead. 

And in the * Statistical Account of Scotland ' (xiii. 
557) the writer, speaking of the parish of Locharron, 
county of Eoss, alludes to the same idea : ' There 
is one opinion which many of them entertain, and 
which, indeed, is not peculiar to this parish alone, 
that a Popish priest can cast out devils and cure 
madness, and that the Presbyterian clergy have 
no such power. A person might as well advise 
a mob to pay no attention to a merry Andrew, as 
to desire many ignorant people to stay from the 

On a small island off Scotland, called Ledge's 
Holm, writes Mr. Bassett, there is a quarry called 
* The Crier of Claife.' According to a local tradition, 
a ferryman was hailed on a dark night from the 
island, and went over. After a long absence he 


returned, having witnessed many horrible sights 
which he refused to relate. Soon afterwards he 
became a monk. After a time the same cry was 
heard, and he went over and succeeded in laying 
the ghost where it now rests. But Bourne, who 
has preserved a form for exorcising a haunted house, 
ridicules the fancy that ' none can lay spirits but 
Popish priests,' and says that ' our own clergy know 
just as much of the black art as the others do ' — 
a statement which is amply confirmed. Thus, 
a ghost known as ' Benjie Gear ' long troubled 
the good people of Okehampton to such an extent 
that, ' at last,' writes Mr. James Spry, in ' The 
Western Antiquary,' 'the aid of the archdeacon was 
called in, and the clergy were assembled in order 
that the troubled spirit might be laid and cease to 
trouble them. There were twenty-three of the 
clergy who mvoked him in various classic languages, 
but the insubordinate spirit refused to listen to 
their request. At length, one more learned than 
the rest addressed him in Arabic, to which he was 
forced to succumb, saying, '' Now thou art come, I 
must be gone ! " He was then compelled to take 
the form of a colt ; a new bridle and bit, which had 

o 2 


never been used, were produced, with a rider, to 
whom the Sacrament was administered. The man 
was directed to ride the colt to Cranmere Pool, on 
Dartmoor, the following instructions being given 
him. He was to prevent the colt from turning its 
head towards the town until they were out of the 
park, and then make straight for the pool, and 
when he got to the slope, to slip from the colt's 
back, pull the bridle off, and let him go. All this 
was dexterously performed, and the impetus thus 
gained by the animal with the intention of throwing 
the rider over its head into the Pool, accomplished 
its own fate.' 

Another curious account of laying a ghost is 
connected with Spedlin's Tower, which stands on 
the south-west bank of the Annan. The story goes, 
that one of its owners. Sir Alexander Jardine, con- 
fined, in the dungeon of his tower, a miller named 
Porteous, on suspicion of having wilfully set fire to 
his own premises. Being suddenly called away to 
Edinburgh, he forgot the existence of his captive 
until he had died of hunger. But no sooner was the 
man dead, than his ghost began so persistently to 
disturb Spedlin's Tower, that Sir Alexander Jardine 
summoned * a whole legion of ministers to his aid, 


and by their efforts Porteous was at length confined 
to the scene of his mortal agonies, where, at times, 
he was heard screaming, *'Let me out, let me out, 
for I'm deein' o' hunger ! " ' The spell which com- 
pelled his spirit to remain in bondage was attached 
to a large black-lettered Bible used by the exorcists, 
and afterwards deposited in a stone niche, which still 
remains in the wall of the staircase. On one occa- 
sion the Bible, requiring to be re-bound, was sent to 
Edinburgh, whereupon the ghost of Porteous re- 
commenced its annoyances, so that the Bible was 
recalled before reaching Edinburgh, and was re- 
placed in its former situation. But, it would seem, 
the ghost is at last at rest, for the Bible is now kept 
at Jardine Hall. 

Then there is the ghost of ' Madam Pigott,' 
once the terror of Chetwynd and Edgmond. 
Twelve of the neighbouring clergy w^ere summoned 
to lay her by incessantly reading psalms till they 
had succeeded in making her obedient to their 
power. *Mr. Foy, curate of Edgmond,' says 
Miss Jackson,^ * has the credit of having accom- 
plished this, for he continued reading after all the 
others were exhausted.' But, ' ten or twelve years 
' Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 125. 


after his death, some fresh alarm of Madam Pigott 
arose, and a party went in haste to beg a neighbour- 
ing rector to come and lay the ghost ; and to this day 
Chetwynd Hall has the reputation of being haunted.' 
It is evident that ' laying a ghost ' Avas far from an 
easy task. A humorous anecdote is told ^ of a 
haunted house at Homersfield, in Suffolk, where an 
unquiet spirit so worried and harassed the inmates 
that they sent for a parson. On his arrival he com- 
menced reading a prayer, but instantly the ghost got 
a line ahead of him. Happily one of the family hit 
on this device : the next time, as soon as the parson 
began his exorcism, two pigeons were let loose; the 
spirit stopped to look at them, the priest got before 
him in his prayer, and the ghost was laid. 

Clegg Hall, Lancashire, was the scene of a 
terrible tragedy, for tradition tells how a wicked 
uncle destroyed the lawful heirs — two orphans that 
were left to his care — by throwmg them over a 
balcony into the moat, in order that he might seize 
on their inheritance. Ever afterwards the house 
was the reputed haunt of a troubled and angry 
spirit, until means were taken for its expulsion. 
* Henderson's Folk-lore of Isorthern Counties, p. 338. 


Mr. William Nuttall, in a ballad entitled ' Sir Eoland 
and Clegg Hall Boggart,' makes Sir Eoland murder 
the children in bed with a dagger. Eemorse 
eventually drove him mad, and he died raving 
during a violent storm. The hall was ever after 
haunted by the children's ghosts, and also by 
demons, till St. Anthony, with a relic from the 
Virgin's shrine, exorcised and laid the evil spirits. 
According to Mr. Nuttall there were two boggarts 
of Clegg Hall, and it is related how the country 
people ' importuned a pious monk to exorcise or lay 
the ghost.' Having provided himself with a variety 
of charms and spells, he quickly brought the ghosts to 
a parley. They demanded as a condition of future 
quiet the sacrifice of a body and a soul. Thereupon 
the cunning monk said, ' Bring me the body of a 
cock and the sole of a shoe.' This being done, the 
spirits were forbidden to appear till the whole of 
the sacrifice was consumed, and so ended the laying 
of the Clegg Hall boggarts. But, for some reason 
or other, the plan of this wily priest did not prove 
successful, and these two ghosts have continued to 

^ See Harland and Wilkinson's LaMashire Legetids, pp. 10-12 . 


With this idea of sacrifice as necessary for laying 
ghosts may be mentioned the apparition of a servant 
at Waddow Hall, known as * Peg o' Nell.' On one 
occasion, the story goes, she had a quarrel with the 
lord or lady of "Waddow Hall, who, in a fit of anger, 
wished that she ' might fall and break her neck,' In 
some way or other Peggy did fall and break her neck, 
and to be revenged on her evil wisher she haunted 
the Hall, and made things very uncomfortable. In 
addition to these perpetual annoyances, * every seven 
years Peg required a life, and it is said that " Peg's 
night," as the time of sacrifice at each anniversary 
was called, was duly observed ; and if no living 
animal were ready as a septennial offering to her 
manes, a human being became inexorably the 
victim. Consequently, it grew to be the custom on 
" Peg's night " to drown a bird, or a cat, or a dog 
in the river ; and a life being thus given, Peg was 
appeased for another seven years.' ^ 

At Beoley, Worcestershire, at the commencement 

of the present century, the ghost of a reputed 

murderer managed to keep undisputed possession 

of a certain house, until a conclave of clergymen 

» Ingram's Haunted Emus, 2nd S. p. 265. 


chained him to the Eed Sea for fifty years. At the 
expiration of this term of imprisonment, the re- 
leased ghost reappeared, and more than ever 
frightened the inmates of the said house, slamming 
the doors, and racing through the ceihngs. At 
last, however, they took heart and chased the rest- 
less spirit, by stamping on the floor from one room 
to another, under the impression that could they 
once drive him to a trap door opening in the cheese- 
room, he would disappear for a season.^ 

A curious case of laying a ghost occurs in ' An 
account of an apparition attested by the Kev. W. 
Euddell, minister at Launceston, in Cornwall,' 1665, 
quoted in Gilbert's ' Historical Survey of Cornwall.' 
A schoolboy was haunted by Dorothy Dingley, and 
he pined. He was thought to be in love, and when, 
at the wishes of his friends, the parson questioned 
him, he told him of his ghostly visitor, and showed 
him the spectral Dorothy. Then comes the story 
of the ghost-laying. 

' The next morning being Thursday, I went out 
very early by myself, and walked for about an hour's 
space in meditation and prayer in the field adjoining 

* See Gentleman's Magazine, 1855, part ii. pp. 58, 59. 


to the Quar tills. Soon after five I stepped over the 
stile into the disturbed field, and had not gone 
above thirty or forty paces when the ghost appeared 
at the further stile. I spoke to it Tivith a loud voice 
in some such sentences as the way of these deal- 
ings directed me; thereupon it approached, but 
slowly, and when I came near it, it moved not. I 
spoke again, and it answered again in a voice which 
was neither very audible nor intelligible. I was 
not the least terrified, therefore I persisted till it 
spoke again, and gave me satisfaction. But the 
work could not be finished this time, wherefore the 
same evening, an hour after sunset, it met me again 
near the same place, and after a few words on each 
side it quietly vanished, and neither doth appear 
since, nor ever will more to any man's disturbance.' 
Local tradition still tells us that ' Madam Dud- 
ley's ghost did use to walk in Cumnor Park, and 
that it walked so obstinately, that it took no less 
than nine parsons from Oxford *'to lay her." That 
they at last laid her in a pond, called ^* Madam 
Dudley's Pond," and, moreover, wonderful to relate, 
the water in that pond was never known to freeze 
afterwards.' Heath Old Hall, near Wakefield, is 


haunted by the ghost of Lady Bolles, who is com- 
monly reported to have been conjured down into a 
hole of the river, locally known as * Bolles Pit.' But, 
as in many other cases of ghost-laying, ' the spell 
was not so powerful, but that she still rises, and 
makes a fuss now and then.' Various reasons have 
been assigned for her ^ walking,' such as the non- 
observance by her executors of certain clauses in 
her will, whilst a story current in the neighbour- 
hood tells us that a certain room in the Hall which 
had been walled up for a certain period, owing to 
large sums of money having been gambled away in 
it, was opened before the stipulated time had ex- 
pired. Others assert that her unhappy condition 
is on account of her father's mysterious death, which 
was ascribed to demoniacal agency.^ 

But of all places the most common, in years 
gone by, for laying ghosts was the Eed Sea, and hence, 
in one of Addison's plays, we read, * There must be 
a power of spirits in that sea.' * This is a locality,' 
says Grose, ' which ghosts least like, it being re- 
lated in many instances that ghosts have most 
earnestly besought the exorcists not to confine them 
I See Ingram's Haunted Homes, 2nd S. pp. 155-159. 


in that place. It is, nevertheless, considered as an 
indisputable fact that there are an infinite number 
laid there, perhaps from its bemg a safer prison 
than any other nearer at hand.' But when such 
exiled ghosts did happen to re-appear, they were 
thought more audacious, being seen by day instead 
of at night. 

In an amusing poem entitled ' The Ghost of a 
Boiled Scrag of Mutton,' which aj)peared in the 
* Flowers of Literature ' many years ago, the follow- 
ing verse occurs embodying the idea : 

The scholar was versed in all magical lore, 
Most famous was he throughout college ; 
To the Red Sea full many an unquiet ghost, 
To repose with King Pharaoh and his mightj^ host, 
He had sent through his proverbial knowledge. 

Addison tells us in the * Spectator,' alluding to his 
London lodgings at a good-natured widow's house 
one winter, how on one occasion he entered the 
room unexpectedly, where several young ladies, 
visitors, were telling stories of spirits and appari- 
tions, when, on being told that it was only the 
gentleman, the broken conversation was resumed, 
and ' I seated myself by the candle that stood at 

GHOST L^iYixa 205 

one end of the table, and, pretending to read a book 
that I took out of my pocket, heard several stories 
of ghosts that, pale as ashes, had stood at the bed's 
foot, or walked over a churchyard by moonlight ; 
and others that had been conjured into the Eed 
Sea for disturbing people's rest.' As it has been 
humorously remarked, it is not surprising that 
many a strange ghost story has been told by the 
sea- faring community, when we remember how 
many spirits have been banished to the Eed Sea. 




On the coast of Brittany there is the * Bay of the 
Departed,' where, it is said, in the dead hour of 
night the boatmen are summoned by some unseen 
power to launch their boats and to ferry to a sacred 
island the souls of men who have been drowned. 
On such occasions the boat is so crowded with 
invisible passengers as to sink quite low in the 
water, while the wails and cries of the shipwrecked 
are clearly heard as the melancholy voyage pro- 
gresses. On reaching the island of Sein, the in- 
visible passengers are numbered by unseen hands, 
after which the wondering, awestruck sailors return 
to await in readiness the next supernatural sum- 
mons. At Guildo, on the same coast, small phantom 
skiffs are reported to dart out from under the castle 
chffs, manned by spectral figures, ferrying over the 
treacherous sands the souls of those unfortunate per- 


sons whose bodies lie engulfed in the neighbourhood. 
So strong is the antipathy to this weird spot that, 
after nightfall, none of the seafaring community 
will approach near it.^ Similar superstitions are 
found elsewhere, and in Cornwall, sailors dislike 
walking at night near those parts of the shore where 
there have been wrecks, as they are supposed to be 
haunted by the ghosts of drowned sailors, and the 
* calling of the dead has frequently been heard.' 
' I have been told,' writes Mr. Hunt,^ ' that, under 
certain circumstances, especially before the coming 
of storms, but always at night, these callings are 
common. Many a fisherman has declared he has 
heard the voices of dead sailors '' hailing their own 
names." ' He further tells how a fisherman, or a 
pilot, was walking one night on the sands at Porth- 
Towan, when all was still save the monotonous fall 
of the light waves upon the sand. Suddenly, he dis- 
tinctly heard a voice from the sea exclaiming : 
^ The hour is come, but not the man.' 

This was repeated three times, when a black 
figure, like that of a man, appeared on the top of 

* Jones : Credulities Past and Present, p. 92. 
2 Bomances of West of England, p. 3G6. 


the hill. It paused for a moment, then rushed 
impetuously down the steep incline, over the sands, 
and was lost in the sea. In different forms the 
story is current all round the Cornish shores, and on 
the Norfolk coast, when any person is drowned, a 
voice is said to be heard from the water, ominous 
of a squall. 

On the Continent the same belief, with certain 
variations, is found. Lord Teignmouth, in his 
* Eeminiscences of Many Years,' speaking of Ulles- 
vang, in Norway, writes : * A very natural belief 
that the voice of a person drowned is heard wailing 
amidst the storm is, apparently, the only acknow- 
ledged remnant of ancient superstition still lingering 
along the shores of the fiords.' In Germany, it is said 
that whenever a man is drowned at sea, he an- 
nounces his death to his relations, and haunts the 
sea-shore. Such ghosts are supposed to make their 
appearance at evening twilight, in the clothes in 
which they were drowned.^ According to a Schleswig 
version of this belief, the spirits of the drowned do 
not enter the house, but linger about the threshold 
to announce their sad errand. A story is told of a 
' Thorpe's Northern Mythology, pp. 10, 11. 


young lad who was forced by his father to go to sea 
against his will. Before starting, he bid farewell to 
his mother, and said, ' As you sit on the shore by 
the lake think of me.' Shortly his ghost appeared to 
her there, and she only knew too well afterwards 
that he had perished. 

Among Maine fishermen there are similar stories 
of the ghost of the drowned being seen. Mr. W. H. 
Bishop, in ' Harper's Magazine ' (Sept. 1880) tells 
us ' there was particularly the story of the Hascall. 
She broke loose from her moorings during a gale on 
George's banks, and ran into and sank the Andrew 
Johnson, and all on board. For years afterwards the 
spectres of the drowned men were reported to come 
on board the Hascall at midnight, and go through the 
dumb show of fishing over the side, so that no one 
in Gloucester could be got to sail her, and she would 
not have brought sixpence in the market.' A Block 
Island tradition affirms that the ghosts of certain 
refugees, drowned in the surf during the revolution, 
are often seen struggling to reach the shore, and 
occasionally their cries are distinctly heard. ^ 

^ Quoted in Bassett's 'Legends of the Sea,' from Livermore's 
History of Block Inland, 



There is the well-known anecdote which Lord 
Byron, says Moore/ used sometimes to mention, 
and which Captain Kidd related to him on the 
passage. * This officer stated that, being asleep 
one night in his berth, he was awakened by the 
pressure of something heavy on his limbs, and 
there being a faint light m the room, could see, as he 
thought, distinctly the figure of his brother, who was 
at that time in the same service in the East Indies, 
dressed in his uniform, and stretched across the 
bed. Concluding it to be an illusion, he shut his 
eyes, and made an effort to sleep. But still the 
same pressure continued ; and as often as he 
ventured to take another look, he saw the figure 
lying across him in the same position. To add to 
the wonder, on putting his hand forth to touch this 
form, he found the uniform in which he appeared 
dripping wet. On the entrance of one of his brother 
officers, to whom he called out in alarm, the 
apparition vanished, but, in a few months after- 
wards, he received the startling intelligence that 
on that night his brother had been drowned in the 
Indian Seas. Of the supernatural character of this 
^ Life of Byron* 


appearance, Captain Kidcl himself did not appear 
to have the slightest doubt.' 

A strange antipathy has long existed against 
rescuing a drowning man, one reason being that the 
person saved would at some time or other do injury 
to the man who rescued him. In China, however, 
this reluctance to give help to a drowning man arises 
from another form of the same superstitious dread, 
the idea being that the spirit of a person who has 
been drowned continues to flit along the surface of 
the water, until it has caused by drowning the death 
of a fellow creature. A person, therefore, who is bold 
enough to attempt to rescue another from drown- 
ing is believed to incur the hatred of the unquiet 
spirit, which is supposed to be desirous, even at the 
expense of a man's life, of escaping from its unceas- 
ing wandering. The Bohemian fisherman shrinks 
from snatching a drowning man from the water, 
fearing that the water-demons would take away his 
luck in fishing, and drown him at the first oppor- 
tunity. This, as Dr. T^dor points out,^ is a linger- 
ing survival of the ancient significance of this super- 
stition, the explanation being that the water spirit 

* See Tylor's Pri7nitive Culture, i. p. 109. 



is naturally angry at being despoiled of his victim, 
and henceforth bears a special grudge against the 
unlucky person who has dared to frustrate him. 
Thus, when a person is drowned in Germany 
the remark is often made, * The river spirit 
claims his yearly sacrifice,' or ' The Nix has taken 

Similarly the Siamese dreads the Pniik, or 
water spirit, that seizes unwary bathers, and 
drags them underneath the w^ater ; and the Sioux 
Indians tell how men have been drowned by Unk- 
tahe, the water demon. Speaking of the ghosts of 
the drowned among savage tribes, Herbert Spenser 
says : ^ * An eddy in the river, where floating sticks 
are whirled round and engulfed, is not far from the 
place where one of the tribe was drowned and never 
seen again. What more manifest, then, than that 
the double of this drowned man, malicious as the 
unburied dead ever are, dwells thereabouts, and 
pulls these things under the surface— nay, in 
revenge, seizes and drags down persons who 
venture near ? "When those who knew the drowned 
man are all dead, when, after generations, the 
' Princij'lcs of Sociology, p. 219. 


details of the story, thrust aside by more recent 
stories, have been lost, there survives only the 
belief in a water demon haunting the place.' We 
may compare the practice of the Kamchadals, who, 
instead of helping a man out of the water, would 
drown him by force. If rescued by any chance, 
no one would receive such a man into his house, or 
give him food, but he was reckoned as dead. 




AccoEDiNG to the popular creed, some persons have 
the pecuHar faculty of seemg ghosts, a privilege 
which, it would seem, is denied to others. It has 
been urged, however, that under certain conditions 
of health there are those who are endowed with 
special powers of perception, whereby they are 
enabled to see objects not visible at other times. 
Thus, as Sir William Hamilton has observed, 'how- 
ever astonishing, it is now proved, beyond all 
rational doubt, that in certain abnormal states of the 
nervous organism, perceptions are possible through 
other than the ordinary channels of the senses.' 
But, without entering into this metaphysical 
question, folk-lore holds that persons born at a 
particular time of the day have the power of seeing 
ghosts. Thus it is said in Lancashire, that 


children born during twilight are supposed to have 
this peculiarity, and to know who of their acquaint- 
ance will next die. Some say that this property 
belongs also to those who happen to be born 
exactly at twelve o'clock at night, or, as the 
peasantry say in Somersetshire, ' a child born in 
chime-hours will have the power to see spirits.' 
The same belief prevails in Yorkshire, where it is 
commonly supposed that children born during the 
hour after midnight have the privilege through life 
of seeing the spirits of the departed. Mr. Hender- 
son says ^ that * a Yorkshire lady informed him 
she was very near being thus distinguished, but the 
clock had not struck tw^elve w^hen she was born. 
When a child she mentioned this circumstance to 
an old servant, adding that mamma was sure her 
birthday w^as the 23rd, not the 24th, for she had 
inquired at the time. '^ Ay, ay," said the oldw^oman, 
turning to the child's nurse, "mistress would be 
very anxious about that, for bairns born after mid- 
night see more things than other folk." ' 

This superstition prevails on the Continent, and, 
in Denmark, Sunday children have prerogatives 
* Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 11. 


far from enviable. Thorpe ^ tells how ' in Fyer 
there was a woman who was born on a Sunday, 
and, like other Sunday children, had the faculty 
of seeing much that was hidden from others. But, 
because of this property, she could not pass by the 
church at night without seeing a hearse or a spectre. 
The gift became a perfect burden to her ; she there- 
fore sought the advice of a man skilled in such 
matters, who directed her, whenever she saw a spec- 
tre, to say, " Go to Heaven! " but when she met a 
hearse, " Hang on ! " Happening some time after to 
meet a hearse, she, through lapse of memory, cried 
out, "Go to Heaven!" and straightway the hearse 
rose in the air and vanished. Afterwards meeting 
a spectre, she said to it, " Hang on ! " when the 
spectre clung round her neck, hung on her back, 
and drove her down into the earth before it. For 
three days her shrieks were heard before the spectre 
would put an end to her wretched life.' 

It is a popular article of faith in Scotland that 

those who are born on Christmas Day or Good 

Friday have the power of seeing spirits, and even 

of commanding them, a superstition to which Sir 

1 Northern Mythology, ii. p. 203. 


Walter Scott alludes in his * Marmion ' (stanza 
xxii.). The Spaniards imputed the haggard and 
downcast looks of their Philip 11. to the disagree- 
able visions to which this privilege subjected him. 

Among uncultured tribes it is supposed that 
spirits are visible to some persons and not to others. 
The ' natives of the Antilles believed that the 
dead appeared on the roads when one w^ent alone, 
but not when many w^ent together ; and among 
the Finns the ghosts of the dead were to be 
seen by the Shamans, but not by men gene- 
rally unless in dreams.' ^ It is, too, as already 
noticed,^ a popular theory with savage races that 
the soul appears in dreams to visit the sleeper, and 
hence it has been customary for rude tribes to 
drink various intoxicating substances, under the 
impression that when thrown into a state of ecstasy 
they would have pleasing visions. On this account 
certain tribes on the Amazon use certain narcotic 
plants, producing an intoxication lastmg twenty- 
four hours. During this period they are said to be 
subject to extraordinary visions, in the course of 
which they acquire information on any subject they 
^ Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. p. 446. * Chap. II. 


may specially require. For a similar reason the 
inhabitants of North Brazil, when anxious to dis- 
cover some guilty person, were in the habit of 
administering narcotic drinks to seers, in whose 
dreams the criminal made his appearance. The 
Californian Indians would give children certain in- 
toxicants, in order to gain from the ensuing vision 
information about their enemies. And the Darien 
Indians used the seeds of the Datura sanguinea to 
produce in children prophetic delirium, during 
which they revealed the whereabouts of hidden 

In our own country various charms have been 
practised from time immemorial for invoking spirits, 
and, as we shall show in a succeeding chapter, it is 
still a widespread belief that, by having recourse to 
certain spells at special seasons in the year, one, if 
so desirous, may be favoured with a view of the 
spirits of departed friends. 




The belief in death-omens peculiar to certain 
families has long been a fruitful source of supersti- 
tion, and has been embodied in many a strange 
legendary romance. Such family forewarnings of 
death are of a most varied description, and are 
still said to be of frequent occurrence. An ancient 
Eoman Catholic family in Yorkshire, of the name 
of Middleton, is supposed to be apprised of the 
death of any one of its members by the apparition 
of a Benedictine nun ; and Sir Walter Scott, in his 
* Peveril of the Peak,' tells us how a certain spirit 
is commonly believed to attend on the Stanley 
family, warning them by uttering a loud shriek of 
some approaching calamity, and especially ^ weep- 
ing and bemoaning herself before the death of any 
person of distinction belonging to the family.' In 


his * Waverley,' too, towards the end of Fergns 
Maclvor's history, he alludes to the Bodach Glas, 
or dark grey man. Mr. Henderson says,^ *Its 

appearance foretold death in the Clan of , and 

I have been informed on the most credible testi- 
mony of its appearance in our own day. The Earl 

of E , a nobleman alike beloved and respected 

in Scotland, was playing on the day of his decease 
on the links of St. Andrews at golf. Suddenly he 
stopped in the middle of the game, saying, *' I can 
play no longer, there is the Bodach Glas. I have 
seen it for the third time ; something fearful is 
going to befall me." He died that night as he was 
handing a candlestick to a lady who was retiring 
to her room.' According to Pennant, most of the 
great families in Scotland had their death-omens. 
Thus it is reported ' the family of Grant Eothie- 
murcus had the " Bodach au Dun," or the Ghost of 
the Hill ; and the Kinchardines the '' Lham-dearg," 
or the Spectre of the Bloody Hand, of whom Sir 
Walter Scott has given the subjoined account from 
Macfarlane's MSS. : " There is much talk of a spirit 
called * Ly-erg,' who frequents the Glenmore. He 
* Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 344. 


appears with a red band, in the habit of a soldier, 
and challenges men to fight with him. As lately 
as the year 1669 he fought with three brothers, 
one after another, who immediately died there- 
from." ' 

The family of Gurlinbeg was haunted by Garlin 
Bodacher, and Tulloch Gorms by May Moulach, or 
the Girl with the Hairy Left Hand.^ The Synod 
gave frequent orders that inquiry should be made 
into the truth of this apparition, and one or two 
declared that they had seen one that answered the 
description. An ancestor of the family of McClean, 
of Lochburg, was commonly reported, before the 
death of any of his race, to gallop along the sea- 
beach announcing the death by dismal lamenta- 
tions ; and the Banshee of Loch Nigdal used to be 
arrayed in a silk dress of greenish hue. 

Eeference is made elsewhere to the apparition 
of the Black Friar, the evil genius of the Byrons, 
supposed to forebode misfortune to the member of 
the family to whom it appeared, and Mr. Hunt 
has described the death-token of the Yingoes. It 
seems that above the deep caverns in a certain part 
^ See Sir Walter ScoWs Poetical Works, 1853, viii. p. 126. 


of their estate rises a cairn. On this, it is as- 
serted, chains of fire were formerly seen ascending 
and descending, which were frequently accompanied 
by lond and frightful noises. But it is affirmed 
that these warnings have not been heard since the 
last male of the family came to a violent end.^ 
Whenever two owls are seen perched on the family 
mansion of the family of Arundel of Wardour, it is 
said that one of its members will shortly die. The 
strange appearance of a white-breasted bird ^ was 
long thought to be a warning of death to a family 
of the name of Oxenham, in Devonshire. 

Equally strange is the omen with which the old 
baronet's family of Clifton, of Clifton Hall, in Not- 
tinghamshire, is forewarned when death is about to 
visit one of its members. It seems that, in this case, 
the omen takes the form of a sturgeon, which is 
seen forcing itself up the Kiver Trent, on whose 
bank the mansion of the Clifton family is situated. 
With this curious tradition may be compared one 
connected with the Edgewell Oak, which is com- 
monly reported to indicate the coming death of an 

' Popular Romances of West of England, p. 372. 
"^ See Chapter on ' Phantom Bu'ds.' 


inmate of Castle Dalhousie by the fall of one of 
its branches. Burke, in his ^Anecdotes of the 
Aristocracy' (1849, i, 122), says that 'opposite 
the dining-room at Gordon Castle is a large 
and massive willow-tree, the history of which is 
somewhat singular. Duke Alexander, when four 
years of age, planted this willow in a tub filled 
with earth; the tub floated about in a marshy 
piece of land, till the shrub, expanding, burst its 
cerements, and struck root in the earth below; 
here it grew and prospered, till it attained the 
present goodly size. The Duke regarded the tree 
with a sort of fatherly and even superstitious 
regard, half believing there was some mysterious 
affinity between its fortunes and his own. If an 
accident happened to the one by storm or light- 
ning, some misfortune was not long in befalHng 
the other.' 

It may be remembered, too, how in the Park of 
Chartley, near Lichfield, has long been preserved the 
breed of the indigenous Staffordshire cow, of sand 
white colour. In the battle of Burton Bridge a black 
calf was born, and the year of the downfall of the 
House of Ferrers happening about the same time, 


gave rise to the tradition that the birth of a parti- 
coloured calf from the wild herd in Chartley Park is 
a sure omen of death \\'ithin the same year to a 
member of the family. Thus, ' by a noticeable coin- 
cidence,' says the * Staffordshire Chronicle ' (July 
] 835), ' a calf of this description has been born when- 
ever a death has happened to thefamily of late years.' 
It appears that the death of the seventh Earl Ferrers, 
and of his Countess, and of his son. Viscount Tam- 
worth, and of his daughter, Mrs. William Joliffe, 
as well as the deaths of the son and heir of the 
eighth Earl and of his daughter, Lady Francis 
Shirley, were each preceded by the ominous birth of 
the fatal-hued calf. This tradition has been made 
the subject of a romantic story entitled ' Chartley, 
or the Fatalist.' 

Walsingham, in his ' Ypodigma Neustriae ' (1574, 
p. 153), informs us how, on January 1, 1399, just 
before the civil wars broke out between the houses 
of York and Lancaster, the Eiver Ouse suddenly 
stood still at a place called Harewood, about five 
miles from Bedford, so that below this place the 
bed of the river was left dry for three miles 
together, and above it the waters swelled to a great 


height. The same thing is said to have happened 
at the same place in January 1648, -^'hich 'was just 
before the death of Charles I., and many super- 
stitious persons * have supposed both these stagna- 
tions of the Ouse to be supernatural and porten- 
tous ; others su^^pose them to be the effect of 
natural causes, though a probable natural cause 
has not yet been assigned.' ^ 

The following curious anecdote, styled ' An Irish 
Water-fiend,' said to be perfectly well authenticated, 
is related in Burke's ' Anecdotes of the Aristo- 
cracy ' (i. 329). The hero of the tale was the Eev. 
James Crawford, rector of the parish of Killina, 
CO. Leitrim. In the autumn of 1777, Mr. Craw- 
ford had occasion to cross the estuary called ' The 
Eosses,' on the coast of Donegal, and on a pil- 
lion behind him sat his sister-in-law. Miss Hannah 
Wilson. They had advanced some distance, until 
the water reached the saddle-laps, when Miss Wilson 
became so alarmed that she implored Mr, Crawford 
to get back as fast as possible to land. * I do not 
thmk there can be danger,' replied Crawford, ' for 
I see a horseman crossing the ford not twenty yards 
' Gentleman's Magazine, 1764, p. 59. 



before us.' Miss Wilson also saw the horseman. 

* You had better hail him/ said she, ' and inquire 
the depth of the intervening water.' Crawford 
checked his horse, and hallooed to the other horse- 
man to stop. He did stop, and turning round, 
displayed a ghastly face grinning fiendishly at 
Crawford, who waited for no further parley, but 
returned as fast as he could. On reaching home 
he told his wife of the spectral rencontre. The 
popular belief was that whenever any luckless 
person was foredoomed to be drowned in that 
estuary, the fatal event was foreshown to the 
doomed person by some such apparition as Craw- 
ford had seen. Despite this monitory warning, 
Mr. Crawford again attempted to cross the ford of 
the Eosses upon September 27, 1777, and was 
drowned in the attempt. 

A correspondent of the ' Gentleman's Maga- 
zine ' speaks of a superstition prevalent among the 
peasantry in Worcestershire, that when storms, 
heavy rains, or other elemental strifes take place 
at the death of a great man, the spirit of the storm 
will not be appeased tih the moment of burial. 

* This superstition,' he adds, ' gained great strength 


on the occasion of the Duke of Wellington's 
funeral, when, after some weeks of heavy rain, and 
one of the highest floods ever known in this 
country, the skies began to clear, and both rain and 
flood abated. It was a common observation in this 
part of the country, in the week before the inter- 
ment of his Grace, " Oh, the rain won't give over 
till the Duke is buried." 

In Germany several princes have their warnings 
of death. In some instances it is the roaring of a 
lion, and in others the howling of a dog. Occa- 
sionally a similar announcement was made by the 
tolling of a bell, or the striking of a clock at an 
unusual time. Then there is the time-honoured 
White Lady, whose mysterious appearance has from 
time immemorial been supposed to indicate some 
event of importance. According to a popular legend, 
the White Lady is seen in many of the castles of 
German princes and nobles, by night as well as by 
day, especially when the death of any member of 
the family is imminent. She is regarded as the 
ancestress of the race, * shows herself always in snow 
white garments, carries a bunch of keys at her side, 
and sometimes rocks and watches over the children 

Q 2 


at night when then' nurses sleep.' The earliest 
instance of this apparition was in the sixteenth 
century, and is famous under the name of ' Bertha of 
Eosenberg,' in Bohemia. The white lady of other 
princely castles was identified with Bertha, and the 
identity was accounted for by the intermarriages 
of other princely houses with members of the 
house of Eosenberg,^ in whose train the White Lady 
passed into their castles. According to Mrs. 
Crowe 2 the White Lady was long supposed to be a 
Countess Agnes of Orlamunde ; but a picture of a 
princess called Bertha, or Perchta von Eosenberg, 
discovered some time since, was thought so to 
resemble the apparition, that it is a disputed point 
which of the two ladies it is, or whether it is or is 
not the same apparition that is seen at different 
places. The opinion of its being the Princess 
Bertha, who lived in the fifteenth century, was 
somewhat countenanced by the circumstance that, 
at a period when, in consequence of the war, an 
annual benefit which she had bequeathed to the 
poor was neglected, the apparition appeared more 

' See Moncure Conway's Demonology and Devil Lore, 
2 Night Side of Nature, 1854, p. 315. 


■frequently, and seemed to be unusually disturbed. 
The * Archpeologia ' (xxxiii.) gives an extract from 
Brereton's * Travels ' (i. 33), which sets forth how 
the Queen of Bohemia told William Brereton ' that 
at Berlin — the Elector of Brandenburg's house — 
before the death of any related in blood to that 
house, there appears and walks up and down that 
house like unto a ghost in a white sheet, which 
walks during the time of their sickness and until 
their death.^ 

Cardan and Henningius Grosius relate a similar 
marvel of some of the ancient families of Italy, the 
following being recorded by the latter authority : 
* Jacopo Donati, one of the most important families 
in Venice, had a child, the heir to the family, very ill. 
At night, when in bed, Donati saw the door of his 
chamber opened and the head of a man thrust in. 
Knowing that it was not one of his servants, he 
roused the house, drew his sword, went over the 
whole palace, all the servants declaring that they 
had seen such a head thrust in at the doors of their 
several chambers at the same hour ; the fastenings 
were found all secure, so that no one could have come 
in from without. The next day the child died.' 
^ See Notes and Queries, 5th S. xi. p. 334. 


Burton, in his * Anatomy of Melancholy,' says 
that near Eufus Nova, in Finland, Sweden, * there 
is a lake in which, when the governor of the castle 
dies, a spectrum is seen, in the habit of Arion, with 
a harp, and makes excellent music, like those clocks 
in Cheshhe which (they say) presage death to the 
master of the family ; or that oak in Lanthadran 
Park, in Cornwall, which foreshows as much.' 

One of the most celebrated ghosts of this kind 
in Britain is the White Lady of Avenel, the creation 
of Sir Walter Scott. In the Highlands it was long 
a common belief that many of the chiefs had some 
kind sphit to watch over the fortunes of their house. 
Popular tradition has many well-known legends 
about white ladies, who generally dwell in forts and 
mountains as enchanted maidens waiting for deliver- 
ance. They delight to a^Dpear in warm sunshine to 
poor shepherds, or herd boys. They are either comb- 
ing their long hair or washing themselves, drying 
w^heat or spinning, they also point out treasures, &c. 
They wear snow-white or half- white black garments, 
yellow or green shoes, and a bunch of keys at their 
side. All these and many other traits that appear 
in individual legends may be traced back to a 


goddess of German mythology who influences birth 
and death, and presides over the ordering of the 

An interesting instance of a death-warning 
among uncultured tribes is told by Mr. Lang,^ on 
the authority of Mr. J. J. Atkinson, late of Noumea, 
New Caledonia, which is curious because it offers 
among the Kanekas an example of a belief current 
in Breton folk-lore. Mr. Atkinson relates how one 
day a Kaneka of his acquaintance paid a visit and 
seemed loth to go away. After some hesitation he 
explained that he was about to die, and would never 
see his English friend again, as his fate was sealed. 
He had lately met in the wood one whom he took 
for the Kaneka girl of his heart, but he became 
aware too late that she was no mortal woman, but 
a wood-spirit in the guise of his beloved. As he 
said, so it happened, for the unlucky man shortly 
afterwards died. ' This is the ground-work,' adds 
Mr. Lang, 'of the old Breton ballad of *' Le Sieur 
Nann," who died after his intrigue with the forest 
spectre ! ' A version of the ballad is printed by De la 

^ Chambers's EncyclopcEclia, 1886, x. p. 179. 
' The Nineteenth Century, April 1865, p. 628 ; Mytli, Bitual, 
and Religion, 1887, i. p. 104. 


Villemarque, Barzaz-Breiz (i. 41), and variants exist 
in Swedish, French, and even in a Lowland Scotch 
version, sung by children in a kind of dancing game.^ 
Another story quoted by Mr. Lang tells how, in 
1860, a Maneroo black fellow died in the service of 
Mr. Du Ye. ' The day before he died, having been 
ill some time, he said that in the night his father, 
his father's friend, and a female spirit he could not 
recognise, had come to him, and said that he would 
die next day, and that they would wait for him.' 
Mr. Du Ve adds that, * though previously the Chris- 
tian belief had been explained to this man, it had 
entirely failed, and that he had gone back to the 
belief of his childhood.' But cases of this kind, it 
would appear, are not uncommon among rude races, 
and have a special value to the student of compara- 
tive folk-lore. 

^ Fison's Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 253. 



The power of seeing things invisible to others is 
commonly known as ' second sight,' a peculiarity 
which the ancient Gaels called ' shadow sight.' 
The subject has, for many years past, excited 
popular interest, and demanded the attention even 
of our learned men. Dr. Johnson was so favour- 
ably impressed with the notion of ' second sight,' 
that after, in the course of his travels, giving the 
subject full inquiry, he confessed that he never 
could 'advance his curiosity to conviction, but 
came away at last only willing to believe.' Sir 
Walter Scott, too, went so far as to say that * if 
force of evidence could authorise us to believe facts 
inconsistent with the general laws of nature, enough 
might be i^roduced in favour of the existence of 
" second sight." ' When we recollect how all history 


and tradition abound in instances of this belief, 
oftentimes apparently resting on evidence beyond 
impeachment, it is not surprising that it has 
numbered among its adherents advocates of most 
schools of thought. Although, too, of late years 
the theory of ' second sight ' has not been so widely 
preached as formerly, yet it must not be supposed 
that the stories urged in support of it are less 
numerous, or that it has ceased to be regarded as 
great a mystery as in days gone by. 

In defining ' second sight ' as a singular faculty 
' of seeing an otherwise invisible object without any 
previous means used by the person that beholds 
it for that end,' we are at once confronted with the 
well-known axiom that * a man cannot be in two 
places at once,' a rule with which it is difficult to 
reconcile such statements as those recorded by 
Pennant of a gentleman of the Hebrides said to 
have had the gift of foreseeing visitors in time to get 
ready for them, or the anecdote which tells how St. 
Ambrose fell into a comatose state while celebrating 
the mass at Milan, and on his recovery asserted that 
he had been present at St. Martin's funeral at 
Tours, where it was afterwards declared he had been 


seen. But it must be remembered that believers 
in * second sight ' base their faith not so much 
on metaphysical definitions as on the evidence of 
daily experience, it being of immaterial importance 
to them how impossible a certain doctrine may 
seem, provided it only has the testimony of actual 
witnesses in its favour. Hence, in spite of all 
arguments against the so-called * second sight,' it 
is urged, on the other hand, that visions coinciding 
with real facts and events occurring at a distance — 
oftentimes thousands of miles away — are beheld 
by persons possessing this remarkable faculty. 
Thus Collins, in his ode on the ' Popular Super- 
stitions of the Highlands,' alludes to this belief : 

To monarchs dear, some himdrecl miles astray 
Oft have they seen Fate give the fatal blow. 
The seer, in Sky, shrieked as the blood did flow 

When headless Charles warm on the scaffold lay. 

Accounts differ largely respecting the faculty 
of * second sight.' Some make it hereditary, and 
according to an account communicated to Aubrey 
from a gentleman at Strathspey, some of the seers 
acknowledged the possibility of teaching it. A corre- 
spondent of the 'Gentleman's Magazine '^ says ' the 

J 1822, Part ii. pp. 598, 599. 


visions attendant on "second sight" are not confined 
to solemn or important events. The future visit of 
a mountebank or piper, the arrival of common 
travellers, or, if possible, still more trifling matters 
than these, are foreseen by the seers. Not only 
aged men and women have the " second sight," but 
also children, horses, and cows. Children en- 
dowed wdth that faculty manifest it by crying aloud 
at the very time a corpse appears to a seer. That 
horses possess it is likewise plain, from their violent 
and sudden starting when their rider, or a seer in 
company with him, sees a vision of any kind, by night 
or by day. It is observable of a horse, that he will 
not go forwards towards the apparition but must 
be led round, at some distance from the common 
road ; his terror is evident, from his becoming all 
over in a profuse sweat, although quite cool a 
moment before. Balaam's ass seems to have 
possessed this power or faculty ; and, perhaps, what 
we improperly style a startlish horse may be one w^ho 
has the gift of the " second sight." That cows have 
the " second sight " is proved by the following cir- 
cumstance. If a woman, whilst milking a cow, 
happen to have a vision of that kind, the cow runs 


a^Yay in a great fright at the same instant, and can- 
not, for some time, be brought to stand quietly.' It 
is further added, that persons who have not long been 
gifted with ' second sight,' after seeing a vision with- 
out doors, on coming into a house, and approaching 
the fire, will immediately fall into a swoon. All 
those, too, who have the * second sight ' do not see 
these appearances at the same time, but if one hav- 
ing this faculty designedly touches his fellow seer at 
the instant that a vision appears to him, in that 
case it will be seen by both. 

Goethe relates that as he was once riding along 
a footpath towards Drusenheim, he saw, * not with 
the eyes of his body, but with those of his spirit, 
himself on horseback coming towards him, in a 
dress that he then did not possess. It was grey, and 
trimmed with gold. Eight years afterwards he found 
himself, quite accidentally, on that spot, on horse- 
back, and in precisely that attire.' ^ 

In 1652 a Scottish lawyer. Sir George Mac- 
kenzie, afterwards Lord Tarbat, when driven to the 
Highlands by fear of the Government of Cromwell, 
made very extensive inquiries concerning this sup- 
' Quoted in Mrs. Crowe's Night Side of Nature, 1854, p. 181. 


posed supernatural faculty, and wrote an elaborate 
account of its manifestations to the celebrated 
Kobert Boyle, published in the correspondence of 
Samuel Pepys. Aubrey, too, devoted considerable at- 
tention to the subject, and in the year 1683 appeared 
the treatise of ' Theophilus Insularum,' with about 
one hundred cases gathered from various sources. 

It was, however, in Scotland that this belief 
gained a specially strong footing. In the year 
1799, a traveller writing of the peasants of Kirk- 
cudbrightshire relates : ' It is common among them 
to fancy that they see the wraiths of persons dying 
which will be visible to one and not to others 
present with him. "Within these last twenty years 
it was hardly possible to meet with any person who 
had not seen many wraiths and ghosts in the course 
of his experience.' Indeed, we are told that many 
of the Highlanders gained a lucrative livelihood by 
enlightening their neighbours on matters revealed 
to them through ' second sight ; ' and Mr. Jamieson 
writes : ' Whether this belief was communicated to 
the Scotch by the northern nations who so long had 
possession of it, I shall not pretend to determine'^ 
but traces of the same wonderful faculty may be 


found among the Scandinavians.' One of the best 
illustrations of this superstition as it prevailed in 
the Highlands is that given by Dr. Johnson in his 
* Journey to the Hebrides ' : * A man on a journey 
far from home falls from a horse ; another, who is 
perhaps at work about the house, sees him bleeding 
on the ground, commonly with a landscape of the 
place where the accident befalls him. Another 
seer, driving home his cattle, or wandering in idle- 
ness, or musing in the sunshine, is suddenly sur- 
prised by the appearance of a bridal ceremony, or 
funeral procession, and counts the mourners or 
attendants, of whom, if he knows them, he relates 
the names ; if he knows them not, he can describe 
the dresses. Things distant are seen at the instant 
when they happen.' 'At the Literary Club,' says 
Boswell, ' before Johnson came in, we talked of his 
*' Journey to the Western Islands," and of his com- 
ing away " willing to believe the ' second sight,' " 
which seemed to excite some ridicule. I was then 
so impressed with many of the stories which I had 
been told, that I avowed my conviction, saying, 
*' He is only willing to believe — I do believe ; the 
evidence is enough for me, though not for his great 


mind. What will not fill a quart bottle ^Yill fill 
a pint bottle ; I am filled with belief." *' Are 
you ? " said George Colman ; '' then cork it up." ' 
It is not many years ago since a man lived at 
Blackpool who was possessed, as he pretended, by 
this faculty, and w^as visited by persons from all parts 
anxious to gam information about absent friends. 
This belief, it may be added, is not confined to our 
own country, curious traces of it being found among 
savage tribes. Thus Captain Jonathan Carver 
obtained from a Cree medicine man a correct pro- 
phesy of the arrival of a canoe with news the 
following day at noon ; and we are told how, when 
Mr. Mason Brown was travelling with the voyageurs 
on the Coppermine river, he was met by Indians of 
the very band he was seeking, these having been 
despatched by their medicine-man, who, on being 
interrogated, affirmed that ' he saw them coming, 
and heard them talk on their journey.' 

Again, persons gifted with * second sight ' are 
said not only to know particular events at a distance 
precisely at the same moment as they happen, but 
also to have a foreknowledge of them before they 
take place, for — 


As the sun, 
Ere it is risen, sometimes paints its image 
In the atmosphere, so often do the spirits 
Of great events stride on before the events, 
And in to-day already walks to-morrow. 

Dr. Tylor, in his ' Primitive Culture,' relates the 
case of a Shetland lady who affirmed how, some 
years ago, she and a girl leading her pony recog- 
nised the familiar figure of one Peter Sutherland, 
whom they knew to be at the time in Edinburgh. 
He turned a corner, and they saw him no more, but 
next week came the news of his sudden death. 

A curious old story illustrative of ' second sight,' 
of which there are several versions, is that of 
* Booty's Ghost,' an account of which occurs in 
Kirby's * Wonderful and Eccentric Museum ' (ii. 
247). It was an action for slander of a deceased 
husband brought by the widow, and the following 
extract, which contains an outline of the strange 
tale, is from the journal of Mr. Spinks : 

' Friday, May 15, 1687.— We had the observa- 
tion of Mr. Booty this day. Captain Barrisby, 
Captain Bristowe, Captain Brown, I, and Mr. Ball, 
merchant, went on shore in Captain Barnaby's boat 
to shoot rabbits upon Stromboli ; and when we had 


done, we called our men together by us, and about 
half an hour and fourteen minutes after three in 
the afternoon, to our great surprise, we all of us saw 
two men come running towards us with such swift- 
ness that no living man could run half so fast as they 
did run, when all of us heard Captain Barnaby say, 
"Lord, bless me ! the foremost is old Booty, my next 
door neighbour," but he said he did not know the 
other that run behind ; he was in black clothes, and 
the foremost was in grey. Then Captain Barnaby 
desired all of us to take an account of the time, and 
put it down in our pocket-books, and when we got 
on board we wrote it in our journals ; for we saw 
them into the flames of fire, and there was a great 
noise which greatly affrighted us all, for we none 
of us ever saw or heard the like before. Captain 
Barnaby said he was certain it was old Booty, which 
he saw running over Stromboli and into the flames 
of hell. It is stated that Captain Barnaby told his 
wife, and she told somebody else, and that it was 
afterwards told to Mrs. Booty, who arrested Captain 
Barnaby in a thousand pound action for what he 
had said of her husband. Captain Barnaby gave 
bail to it, and it came on to a trial in the Court of 


King's Bench, and they had Mr. Booty's ^yearmg 
apparel brought into Court, and the sexton of the 
parish, and the people that were with him when he 
died ; and we swore to our journals, and it came to 
the same time within two minutes. Ten of our men 
swore to the buttons on his coat, and that they were 
covered with the same sort of cloth his coat was 
made of, and so it proved. The jury asked Mr. 
Spinks if he knew Mr. Booty. He answered, '' I 
never saw him till he ran by me on the burning 
mountain." ' 

The Chief Justice from April 1687 to February 
1689 was Sir Piobert Wright. His name is not 
given in the report, but the judge said : 'Lord, have 
mercy on me, and grant that I may never see what 
you have seen. One, two, or three may be mistaken, 
but thirty can never be mistaken.' So the widow 
lost her suit.^ 

It appears, also, that coming events are mostly 
forecasted by various symbolic omens which gener- 
ally take the form of spectral exhibitions. Thus, a 
phantom shroud seen in the morning on a living 
person is said to betoken his death in the course of 
* See Notes and Queries, 1st S. iii. 170. 

R 2 


the day ; but if seen late in the evening, no parti- 
cular time is indicated, further than that it will take 
place within the year. If, too, the shroud does not 
cover the whole body, the fulfilment of the vision 
may be expected at some distant period. 

But these kind of omens vary largely in different 
countries ; and, on the Continent, where much mis- 
placed faith is attached to them, they are frequently 
the source of much needless dread. 




Sometimes ghosts appear in consequence of an 
agreement made before death with some particular 
friend, that he or she who first died should appear 
to the survivor. Numerous tales are told illustra- 
tive of this belief, one of the best authenticated 
being that recorded by Lord Brougham,^ who, speak- 
ing of his intimate friend at the University, writes : 
* There was no divinity class, but we frequently in 
our walks discussed and speculated upon many grave 
subjects, among others, on the immortality of the 
soul and on a future state. This question and the 
possibility, I will not say of ghosts walking, but of 
the dead appearing to the living, were subjects of 
much speculation ; and we actually committed the 

* Life and Times of Lord Brougham, written by himself, 


folly of drawing up an agreement written with our 
blood, to the effect that whichever of us died first 
should appear to the other, and thus solve any 
doubts we had entertained of the *' life after 
death." ' Years afterwards— on December 19, 1799 
— when Lord Brougham had almost forgotten 
the existence of his friend, as he was taking a 
warm bath, he appeared to him ; but, as he adds, 
' No doubt I had fallen asleep, and the appearance 
presented to my eyes was a dream. I recollected 
quickly enough our old discussion, and the bargain 
we had made. I could not discharge from my 
mind the impression that my friend must have 
died, and that his appearance to me was to be re- 
ceived by me as a proof of his future state.' In 
October 1862 Lord Brougham made this postscript : 
' I have just been copying out from my journal the 
account of this strange dream — certissima mortis 
imago. And now to finish the story begun about 
sixty years since. Soon after my return to Edin- 
burgh, there arrived a letter from India, announc- 
ing G 's death, and stating that he had died 

on the 19th of December.' 

A curious story is told by John Darley, 


Carthusian monk, \Yho relates that, as he was 
attending upon the death bed of Father Kaby, in 
1534, he said to the expiring man, 'Good Father 
Eaby, if the dead can visit the Hving, I beseech you 
to pay a visit to me by-and-by ; ' and Eaby answered, 
' Yes ; ' immediately after which he drew his last 
breath. Butonthesame afternoon, about five o'clock, 
as Darley was meditating in his cell, the departed 
man suddenly appeared to him in a monk's habit, 
and said to him, 'Why do you not follow our father ? ' 
And I replied, * Why ? ' He said, * Because he is a 
martyr in heaven next to the angels.' Then I said, 
* Where are all our fathers who did like to him ? ' 
He answered and said, ' They are all pretty well, but 
not so well as he is.' And then I asked him how he 
was, and he said * Pretty well.' And I said, ' Father, 
shall I pray for you ? ' To which he replied, * I am 
as well as need be, but prayer is at all times good,' 
and with these words he vanished.^ 

There is the well-known Beresford ghost tale, 

about which so many accounts have been given. It 

appears that Lord Tyrone and Miss Blank were 

orphans, educated in the same house * in the 

^ See Brand's Papular Antiqidtics, 1870, iii. p. 117. 


principles of Deism.' When they were about 
fourteen years old their preceptor died, and their 
new guardian tried to persuade them to embrace 
revealed religion. The boy and girl stuck to Deism. 
But they made a compact, that he or she who died 
first should appear to the survivor, * to declare what 
religion was most approved by the Supreme Being.' 
Miss Blank married St. Martin Beresford, and one 
day she appeared at breakfast with a pale face, and 
a black band round her wrist. On her death-bed 
she explained how the ghost of Lord Tyrone had 
appeared to her at the hour of his death, and had 
correctly prophesied her future : ' He struck my 
wrist ; his hand was as cold as marble ; in a moment 
the sinews shrank up, every nerve withered. ... I 
bound a piece of black ribbon round my wrist.' 
The black ribbon was formerly in the possession of 
Lady Betty Cobb, who, during her long life, was 
ever ready to attest the truth of this narration, as 
are, to the present hour, the whole of the Tyrone 
and Beresford families.^ 

As Mr. Andrew Lang points out in the 

^ Dr. F. G.Lee: Glimpses of the Supernatural] the subject 
has been discussed in Notes and Queries. 


* Nineteenth Century,' ^ Lord Tyrone merely did 
what many ghosts had done before in the matter of 
touching Lady Beresford's wrist. Thus, as he says, 
according to Henry More, ' one ' (bogie) ' took a rela- 
tion of Melanchthon's by the hand, and so scorched 
her that she bore the mark of it to her dying day.' 
Before Melanchthon the anecdote was improved by 
Eudes de Shirton, in a sermon, who tells how a 
certain clerk, Serlon, made with a friend the 
covenant which Miss Blank made with Lord Tyrone. 
The friend died, and appeared to Serlon ' in a parch- 
ment cloak, covered with the finest writing in the 
world.' Being asked how he fared, he said that 
this cloak, a punishment for his love of logic, 
weighed heavier than lead, and scorched like the 
shirt of Nessus. Then he held out his hand, and 
let fall a drop w^hich burned Serlon to the bone — 

And evermore that master wore 
A covering on his wrist. 

Before Eudes de Shirton, William of Malmesbury 
knew this anecdote. His characters are two clerks, 
an Epicurean and a Platonist, who made the usual 
compact that the first to die should appear to the 

* Comparative Study of Ghost Stories, April 1885, pp. 630, 631. 


survivor, and state whether Plato's ideas, or 
Epicurus in his atoms, were the correct reply to the 
conundrum of the universe. The visit was to be 
paid within thirty days of the death. One of the 
philosophical pair was killed, and appeared to the 
other, but after the time arranged, explaining that 
he had been unable to keep his appointment earlier, 
and, stretching out his hand, let fall three burning 
drops of blood, which branded the brow of the 
psychical inquirer. 

Mrs. Grant, in her ' Superstitions of the High- 
lands,' tells how a widow, returning home through 
a wood at dusk, was met by her husband's ghost, 
' who led her carefully along a difficult bridge, but 
left a blue mark on her wrist which the neighbours 
had opportunities of seeing during the week ; she 
survived the adventure.' A similar circumstance 
is related by Eichard Baxter,^ in connection with a 
lady, soon after the Kestoration, when Parliament 
was passing Acts which pressed sore on the dis- 
senters. While praying for the deliverance of the 
faithful from the evils which threatened them, ' it 
was suddenly given her, that there should be a 
^ Certainty of a World of Spirits, p. 181. 


speedy deliverance, even in a very short time. She 
desired to know which way, and it being set strongly 
on her as a revelation, she prayed earnestly that 
if this were a true divine impulse and revelation, 
God would certify her by some sign, and she 
ventured to choose the sign herself, and laid her 
hand on the outside of the upper part of her leg, 
begging of God, that if it were a true answer. He 
would make on that place some visible mark. 
There was presently the mark of black spots, like 
as if a hand had burnt it, which her sister witnessed, 
there being no such sign before.' 

In Scott's well-known ballad, the phantom 
knight impresses an indelible mark on the lady who 
has been his paramour, and in the Tartan stories, 
written by a Frenchman, a ghost appears to Prince 
Faruk in a dream, and touches him on the arm. 
The Prince finds the mark of the burn when he 
awakes.^ There are nurderous stories of this kind 
scattered here and there in the traditionary lore of 
this and other countries, and such indelible marks, 
left by ghosts of their visits, have been held as a 
mysterious proof of their materialistic power. 
* Yardley's Supernatural in Fiction, p. 94. 


A correspondent of ' Notes and Queries ' (2nd S. 
V. 343) vouches for the authenticity of the following 
* incontrovertible facts,' which, he says, * occurred 
to a friend of my own, and to the companion of his 
early youth, who, having obtained a cadetship, went 
to India.' The story runs thus. * The former was 
towards evening driving across a long barren heath. 
Suddenly, by his side in the vehicle, was seen the 
figure of his i^laymate. Happening to turn his 
head from him to the horse, and on looking again, 
the apparition had vanished. Eemembering the 
conversation that they had held together at parting, 
he doubted not but that his friend w^as at that 
moment dead, and that in his appearing to him, 
he was come in the fulfilment of their mutual 
promise, in order to remove all pre-existing doubts 
as to the possibility of a denizen of a higher sphere 
appearing to its friend on earth. By the next 
Indian Mail was received intelligence of his death, 
showing the exact coincidence as to the time of the 
two events.' 

In the biography of William SmeUie is the 
history of a compact he made with his friend 
William Greenlaw, whereby it was mutually agreed 


that whoever died first should return and give the 
other an account of his condition after death. 
Shortly after the anniversary of his death, the 
ghost of Greenlaw is reported to have appeared to 
Smellie, and in a solemn tone informed him ' that 
he had experienced great difficulties in procuring 
permission to return to this earth, according to 
their agreement ; that he was now in a much better 
world than the one he had left,' but added ' that the 
hopes and wishes of its inhabitants were by no 
means satisfied, as, like those of the lower world, 
they still looked forward in the hope of eventually 
reaching a still happier state of existence.' Another 
case of a similar kind is that of the appearance of 
the Eev. Theodore Alois Buckley, formerly one of 
the chaplains of Christ Church, Oxford, to his friend 
Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie. The story, as narrated 
in Newton Crosland's ' Theory of Apparitions,' is, 
that about the year 1850 the two friends, when at 
Oxford, entered into a compact of the kind already 
described, the signal of appearance arranged 
between them being the laying of a ghostly hand 
on the forehead of the surviving friend. On January 
30, 1856, Mr. Buckley died, and on February 2, it 


is said, kept the agreement, for as Mr. Mackenzie 
* was lying in bed, watching the candle expiring, he 
felt placed over one eye and his forehead a cool, 
damp hand, and on looking up saw Buckley in his 
ordinary apparel, with his portfolio under his arm 
standing by his bedside.' 

The Duchess of Mazarin is said to have 
appeared to Madame de Beauclair, in accordance 
with a solemn compact made in life, that whoever 
died first should return, if it were possible, and 
inform the other of the existence of the future 
state. But it w^as some years after her death that 
the Duchess kept her promise, and when she did, 
it was to make this announcement : ' Beauclair, 
between the hours of twelve and one this night you 
will be with me.' The non-appearance of her friend's 
spirit for so long had caused Madame de Beauclair 
to doubt the non-existence of a future life.^ 

But in some cases such compacts have not been 
kept. Dr. Chance tells us in ' Notes and Queries ' 
(6th S. ii. 501) that in 1846-1847, as a young man, 
he made such a compact, but when his friend died 
in 1878 he did not appear, neither has he ever 
' T. M. Jarvis : Accredited GJwst Stories, 1823 


done so. To quote Dr. Chance's words : ' It is true 
my friend died about noon, and that I knew of his 
death the same evening, so that if he had appeared 
to me I should have learnt nothing new, whilst in 
most, if not all, of the recorded cases the apparition 
has been the first to convey the intelligence of the 
death. But this did not exonerate my friend from 
his promise ; and if he did not keep it, I must take 
it that he could not come, for nothing but inability \ 
would have kept me from fulfilling my share of the 
compact if I had been called upon to do so.' 

In Mather's ' Eemarkable Providences ' the 
failure of a spirit to keep a promise of appearing 
after its separation from the body is referred to, 
the author being of opinion that there is great 
hazard attending such covenants. To quote his 
words : ' It may be after men have made such 
agreements, devils may appear to them pretending 
to be their deceased friends, and thereby their souls 
may be drawn in woful snares. Who knoweth 
whether God v;ill permit the persons, who have 
thus confederated, to appear in the world again 
after their death ? And if not, then the survivor 
will be under great temptation unto Atheism, 


as it fell out with the late Earl of Eochester, 
who (as is reported in his life by Dr. Burnet) 
did in the year 1665 enter into a formal engage- 
ment with another gentleman, not without cere- 
monies of religion, that if either of them died, 
he should appear, and give the other notice of the 
future state if there were any. After this the other 
gentleman was killed, but did never appear after 
his death to the Earl of Eochester, which was a 
great snare to him during the rest of his life. 
Though, w4ien God awakened the Earl's conscience 
upon his death-bed, he could not but acknowledge 
that one who had so corrupted the natural prin- 
ciples of truth as he had done, had no reason to 
expect that such an extraordinary thing should be 
done for his conviction. Or if such agreement 
should necessitate an apparition, how would the 
world be confounded with spectres; how many 
w^ould probably be scared out of their wits ; or wdiat 
curious questions would vain men be proposing 
about things which are (and it is meet they should 
be) hid from mortals ? ' 




Mines have long been supposed to be haunted, a 
fact which is no cause of wonderment, considering 
the many unearthly sounds — such as ' the dripping 
of water down the shafts, the tunnelling of distant 
passages, the rumbling of trains from some freshl}'- 
exploded lode ' — constantly to be heard there. In 
early times it was thought that all mines of gold, 
&c. were guarded by evil spirits, a belief to which Fal- 
staff alludes to in 2 Henry IV. (Act iv. sc. 3), where 
he speaks of ' learning a mere hoard of gold kept 
by a devil.' The Peruvian Indians affirm that the 
treasures in emerald mines are guarded by evil 
spirits, and Stevenson, speaking of the emerald 
mine in the neighbourhood of Los Esmeraldos, 
writes : ' I never visited it, owing to the supersti- 
tious dread of the natives, who assured me it was 



enchanted, and guarded by a dragon, which poured 
forth thunder and Hghtning on those who dared to 
ascend the river.' The spirits that haunt mines are 
considered to be unfriendly, because, as an old writer 
quoted by Reginald Scot remarks, ' they do exceed- 
ingly envy every man's benefit in the discovery of hid- 
den treasure, ever haunting such places where money 
is concealed, and diffusing malevolent and poisonous 
influences to blast the lives and limbs of those that 
dare attempt the discovery thereof.' And ' modern 
authors,' adds Fuller, * avouch that malignant 
spirits haunt the places where precious metals 
are found, as if the devil did there sit abrood to 
hatch them, cunningly pretending an unwillingness 
to part with them ; whereas, indeed, he gains more 
by one mine minted out into money than by a 
thousand concealed in the earth.' 

It is supposed by the people who live in the 
neighbourhood of Largo Law, in Fife, that there is 
a very rich mine of gold under and near the moun- 
tain, which has never yet been properly searched 
for. So convinced are they that this is so, that, 
whenever they see the wool of a sheep's side tinged 
with yellow, they think it has acquired that colour 


from having lain above the gold of the mine. 
Many years ago a ghost made its appearance upon 
the spot, supposed to be acquainted with the 
secret of the mine, but, as it required to be spoken 
to before it would condescend to speak, the question 
arose as to who should accost it. At length a shep- 
herd volunteered to ask the ghost the cause of its 
haunting this locality, and to his surprise it proved 
very affable, promising to appear on a particular 
night at eight o'clock, when, said the spirit, 

If Allcllindo^Ynie cock disna craw, 

And Balmain horn disna blaw, 

I'U teU ye where the gowd mine is in Largo Law. 

True to its promise, the ghost came ready to 
divulge the secret, when Tammie Norrie, the cow- 
herd of Balmain, either through obstinacy or 
forgetfulness, ' blew a blast both loud and dread,' at 
which the ghost vanished, after exclaiming — 

Woe to the man that blew the horn 

For out of the spot he shall ne'er be borne. 

The unfortunate horn-blower was struck dead 
on the spot, and as it was found impossible to 
remove his body, w'hich seemed, as it were, pinned 

s 2 


to the earth, a cairn of stones was raised over it, 
known still as Norrie's Law, and which is regarded 
as uncanny by the peasantry.^ 

Again, frequent accidents in mines were thought 
to be a proof of the potency ' of the metallic spirits, 
which so tormented the workmen in German mines, 
and in those of other countries, by blindness, 
giddiness, and sudden sickness, that they were 
obHged frequently to abandon mines well known to 
be rich in metals.' ^ 

Strange noises are oftentimes a puzzle to the 
miner, and suggest a supernatural agency. In the 
mine at Wheal Vor, where there appears to have 
been a general belief in ' tokens ' and supernatural 
appearances, a man one morning, on being relieved 
from his turn as watcher, reported that during the 
night he had heard a sound like the emptymg of a 
cartload of rubbish in front of the account house 
where he was staying. On going out nothing was 
to be seen. The man, considering the strange 
sound as a warning, pined away and died within a 
few weeks. 

* Chambers's Papular Rhymes of Scotland, pp. 238, 239. 
- Jones's Credulities Past and Present^ p. 123. 


The Cornish miner too has long been a firm be- 
liever in the existence of a mysterious being known 
as the * Knocker.' The late Charles Kingsley, in his 
* Yeast,' asks, * Who are the knockers ? ' To which 
question Tregarra answers : * They are the ghosts, 
the miners hold, of the old Jews that crucified Our 
Lord, and were sent for slaves by the Eoman 
Emperors to work the mines. . . . We used to break 
into the old shafts and adits which they had made, 
and find fine old stag's horn pickaxes, that crumbled 
to pieces when we brought them to grass. And 
they say that if a man will listen on a still night 
about these shafts, he may hear the ghosts of 
them at work, knocking and picking, as clear as if 
there was a man at work in the next level.' In 
some districts the knockers are designated ' the 
buccas,' and, generally speaking, they work upon 
productive lodes only. An interesting illustration 
of these strange beings is given in Carne's ' Tales of 
the West,' w^herein we read how * the rolling of the 
barrows, the sound of the pickaxes, and the fall of 
the earth and stones, are distinctly heard through 
the night, often, no doubt, the echo of their own 
labours ; but sometimes continued long after the 


labour has ceased, and occasionally voices seem to 
mingle with them.' 

In Wales, when a mysterious thumping, not 
produced by any human being, is heard, and when, 
in examining the spot from whence the sound pro- 
ceeded, indications of ore oftentimes are detected, 
the sturdiest incredulity is shaken.^ In such cases, 
* science points out that the noise may be produced 
by the action of water upon the loose stones in 
fissures and pot-holes of the mountain limestone, 
and does actually suggest the presence of metals.' 
Furthermore, as the late Mr. Wirt Sikes rightly 
suggests, ' in the days before a Priestley had caught 
and bottled that demon which exists in the shape of 
carbonic acid gas, when the miner was smitten 
dead by an invisible foe in the deep bowels of the 
earth, it was natural that his awe-struck companions 
should ascribe the mysterious blow to a super- 
natural enemy. When the workman was assailed 
suddenly by what we now call fire-damp, which 
killed him and his companions upon the dark 
rocks, scorching, burning, and killing, those who 
survived were not likely to question the existence 
' See Hunt's Pojnilar Bomances of West of England. 


of the mine-fiend.' Hence, too, originated the super- 
stition of basilisks in mines, which destroyed with 
their terrible gaze.^ 

In the ' Colliery Guardian ' for May 13, 1863, 
many strange superstitions are described, in which 
it is stated that the pitmen in the Midland Counties 
have or had a belief unknown to the north, in 
aerial whistlings warning them against the pit. 
Who or what the invisible musicians were, nobody 
pretended to know, but they generally consisted of 
seven, as the ' Seven Whistlers ' is the name they 
bear to this day.^ An instance of this superstition 
is given in the ^ Times ' of September 21, 1874. 
Owing to certain nocturnal sounds, a large number 
of the men employed at some of the Bedworth 
collieries in North Warwickshire refused to descend 
the coal-pits in which they were employed. During 
Sunday it was stated that these sounds had been 
distinctly heard in the neighbourhood of Bedworth, 
and the result was that on the following morning, 
when labour should have been resumed, the men 
pointedly refused to work. 

^ Wirt Sikes : British Goblins, p. 26. 
' See Cliapter ' Phantom Animals.' 


The Northern mines were supposed to be 
haunted by two gobHns. One was a spiteful elf, 
who indicated his presence only by the mischief he 
perpetrated. He rejoiced in the name of ' Cutty 
Soams,' and appears ' to have amused himself by 
severing the rope-traces or soams, by which an 
assistant putter, honoured by the title of ''the fool," 
is yoked to the tub. The strands of hemp, which 
were left all sound in the board at ''kenner-time," 
were found next morning severed in twam. *' ' Cutty 
Soams' has been at work," would the fool and his 
driver say, dolefully knotting the cord.' The other 
goblin was no other than a ghostly putter, and his 
name was 'Bluecap.' Sometimes the miners would 
perceive a light blue flame flicker through the air, 
and settle on a full coal-tub, which immediately 
moved towards the rolley way, as though impelled 
by the sturdiest sinews in the working. Industrious 
Bluecap was at his vocation, but he required to be 
paid for his services ; therefore, once a fortnight, his 
wages were left for him in a solitary corner of 
the mine. If they were a farthing below his due, 
the indignant Bluecap would not pocket a stiver ; 
if they were a farthing above his due, Bluecap left 


the surplus where he found it. A hewer was asked 
if Bluecap's wages were nowadays to be left for 
him, whether they would be appropriated. The 
man shrewdly answered he thought they would be 
taken by Bluecap, or somebody else. 

But as most mines are productive, more or less, 
of the same weird echoes, we find similar stories 
current in different localities of strange hammerings 
and knockings. A story is told in North Ayrshire 
of a miner who, day by day, heard the sounds of a 
pick on the other side of the coal into which he was 
digging, which so terrified him, that at last he 
sought the help of a minister to protect him ' from 
the machinations of the devil.' The good man 
having asked him how many ' holings ' — the depth 
of coal displaced by one blasting— there were before 
the wall between him and the evil spirit could be 
broken through, sent him back to work until there 
was only one ' holing ' between them. Then he was 
to take a piece of bread, and crumble it all down ui a 
train to the mouth of the pit, and again resuming 
his pick, to strike through the dividing coal. The 
moment this was done, he was to cry ' The hole's 
mine ! ' and make for the mouth of the pit as fast as 


he could. These chrections the miner carefully 
followed, but he had a narrow escape, for he had no 
sooner reached his place of safety than the walls 
of the pit came close together with a thundering 

Another story, recorded in * Communications 
with the Unseen World,' tells how, for many years, 
the overseer of a mine at AVhitehaven was a 
Cumberland man, but being found guilty of some 
unfair proceedings, he was dismissed by the pro- 
prietors from his post, though employed in an 
inferior one. The new overseer was a Northum- 
berland man, to whom the degraded overseer bore 
the strongest hatred, and was heard to say that 
some day he would be his ruin. One day they were 
both destroyed by fire-damp, and it was believed 
in the mine that, preferring revenge to life, the ex- 
overseer had taken his successor, less acquainted 
than himself with the localities of the mine, into a 
place where he knew the fire-damp to exist, without 
a safety lamp, and had thus contrived his destruc- 
tion. But, ever after, in the place where the two 
men perished, their voices might be heard high in 
dispute, the Northumbrian burr being distinctly 


audible, and also the well-known pronunciation of 
the treacherous murderer. 

The mysterious apparition of a woman who 
committed suicide was supposed to haunt Polbreen 
Mine, Cornwall, locally known as * Dorcas.' She 
appeared to take a malicious delight in tormenting 
the miner when at work, calling him by his name, 
and enticing him from his duties. This was carried 
on by her to such an extent that when * a tributer ' 
had made a poor month, he was commonly 
asked if he had * been chasing Dorcas.' On one 
occasion only, Dorcas is said to have acted kindly. 
It is stated ^ that two miners, who may be styled 
Martin and Jacky, were at work in their end, and 
at the time busily engaged 'beating the borer.' 
The name of Jack was distinctly uttered between 
the blows. He stopped and listened — all was still. 
They proceeded with their task, a blow on the iron 
rod — * Jacky ! ' Another blow — * Jacky ! ' They 
pause— all is silent. 'Well, thee wert called, 
Jacky,' said Martin, 'go and see.' Jacky, how- 
ever, disregarded the sound, work was resumed, and 
' Jacky ! Jacky ! Jacky ! ' was called more vehemently 

* Hunt's Popular Romances of West of England, p. 354. 


and distinctly than before. Jacky threw down his 
hammer, resolved to satisfy himself as to the person 
who was calling him. But he had not proceeded 
many yards from the spot on which he had been 
standing at work, when a mass of rock fell from the 
roof of the level weighing many tons, which would 
have crushed him to death. Martin had been 
stooping, holding the borer, and a projecting corner 
of rock just above him turned off the falling mass. 
He was securely enclosed, but he was extricated 
without injury. Jack declared to his dying day 
that he owed his life to Dorcas. 

A similar experience is recorded by Mr. John 
Lean in the ' West Briton,' who relates how, when 
he was underground hundreds of fathoms distant 
from any other human being at Wheal Jewell, a 
mme in the parish of Gwennap, ' as he was walking 
slowly and silently through the level, his thoughts, as 
it were, absorbed, examining the rich course of copper 
ore in the roof or back, he was aroused as though by 
an audible voice, * ' You are in the winze ! " He at once 
threw himself flat on his back in the bottom of the 
level, and on shifting from this posture to that of a 
sitting one, he discovered that his heels were on the 
verge of the end of a winze, left exposed and open, 


embracing all the width of the gunnis, communi- 
cating with the next level, ten fathoms below. At 
the moment he received this singular warning, his 
foot was lifted for the next step over the mouth of 
this abyss, a step to eternity, had it not thus been 

On the Continent, similar tales of phantoms 
haunting mines are current. In the mines about 
Clausthal and Andreasberg a spectre was formerly 
seen who went by the name of the * Bergmonch.' 
He w^as clad as a monk, but was of gigantic stature, 
and always carried in his hand a large tallow candle, 
which never went out. "When the miners entered 
in the morning, he would stand at the aperture with 
his light, letting them pass under it. It appears 
that the Bergmonch w^as formerly a burgomaster or 
director, who took such delight in mining that, when 
at the point of death, he prayed that instead of 
resting in heaven, he might wander about till the 
last day, over hiU and dale, in pits and shafts, and 
superintend the mining. To those towards whom 
he is well disposed he renders many a kind service, 
and appears to them in a human form and of 
ordinary stature ; while to others he appears in his 
true form. His eyes sprout forth flames, and are 


like coach-wheels ; his legs are like spiders' webs.^ 
Associated, too, with the German miners' supersti- 
tious fancies is the belief in the ' Cobal,' or ' Kobold,' 
a supernatural being who is generally malicious, and 
rarely heard but when mischief is near. But still 
more to be feared were the ' Knauff-kriegen,' of 
whom Professor Eamazzini of Padua thus writes : 

* I took the story of devils haunting mines to be 
fabulous, until I was undeceived by a skilful 
Hanoverian operator in metals, who is now em- 
ployed by our duke in tracing the metallic veins in 
the mountainous parts of Modena. For this man 
told me seriously, that in the Hanoverian mines the 
diggers have frequent falls, which they say are oc- 
casioned by their being knocked down by devils, 
which they call '' Knauff-kriegen," and that after 
such falls they often die in the space of three or 
four days ; but if they outlive that time they 

French mines are haunted, and many tales are 

told of a spectral hare which at times is seen. One 

story tells how ' a miner was frightened one day by 

seeing a white object run and conceal itself in an 

* Thorpe's Northern Mythology, iii. p. 96. 


iron pipe. He went forward, and stopped up the two 
ends of the tube, and called one of his fellow men to 
examine the pipe with him. They did so, but found 
nothing within, the hare spirit had vanished.' ^ 
' Similarly at Wheal Vor,' says Mr. Hunt,^ ' it has 
always been and is now believed that a fatal 
accident in the mine is presaged by the appearance 
of a hare, or white rabbit, in one of the engine 
houses. The men solemnly declare that they have 
chased these appearances till they were hemmed in 
apparently, without being able to catch them ; and 
they tell how the white rabbit on one occasion was run 
into a *' windbore" lying on the ground, and though 
stopped in, escaped.' With this belief may be com- 
pared one which was common in Sussex a few years 
ago, closely resembling the French superstition of 
the Fetiches, animals of a dazzling whiteness which 
appear only in the night-time, and vanish as soon 
as anyone attempts to touch them. A black- 
smith's wife at Ashington, the daughter of a small 
farmer, was found one morning much depressed in 
mind, and on being questioned as to the cause of it 

^ Jones's Credulities Past and Present, p. 138. 
2 Pojpular Bomances of West of England, p. 350.1 


said, * I shall hear bad news before the day is over ; 

for late last night as I was waiting for my husband 

what should I see on looking out of the window, 

lying close under it, but a thing like a duck, yet a 

great deal whiter than it ought to have been, whiter 

than any snow.' It was suggested that it might 

have been a neighbour's cat, and that it looked 

whiter than usual on account of the moonlight. 

* Oh, dear no ! ' she repHed, * it was no cat, nor 

anything alive ; those white things were sent as 

warnings,' but no sad news came as she expected.* 

She nevertheless remained firmly convinced that a 

warning of some kind had been supernaturally sent 

to her. 

* Folk-lore Record, i. p. 54. 




One of the grandest and wildest legends of Ireland 
is that relating to the Banshee — a mysterious 
personage, generally supposed to be the harbinger 
of some approaching misfortune. The name of the 
Banshee 'is variously pronounced Banshi and 
Benshee, being translated by different scholars, the 
''Female Fairy," the "Woman of Peace," the "Lady 
of Death," the" Angel ofDeath,"the "WhiteLady of 
Sorrow," the "Nymph of the Air," and the" Spirit of 
the Air."' The many romantic incidents in which 
this weird figure has, at different times, made its 
appearance are treasured up among the household 
stories of our Irish peasantry. It must not be for- 
gotten that in a country abounding in natural 
beauties such a superstition would harmonise with 
the surroundings of the picturesque scenery, and 



SO gain a firm hold on the mind of the inhabit- 

UnHke, also, many of the legendary beliefs of 
this kind, the popular accounts illustrative of it are 
related on the evidence of all sections of the com- 
munity, many an enlightened and well-informed 
advocate bemg enthusiastic in his vmdication of its 
reality. It would seem, however, that no family 
which is not of an ancient and noble stock is 
honoured with this visit of the Banshee, and hence 
its non-appearance has been regarded as an indica- 
tion of disqualification in this respect on the part of 
the person about to die. * If I am rightly informed,' 
writes Sir Walter Scott, ' the distinction of a Ban- 
shee is only allowed to families of the pure Milesian 
stock, and is never ascribed to any descendant of 
the proudest Norman or boldest Saxon who followed 
the banner of Strongbow, much less to adventurers 
of later date who have obtained settlements in the 
Green Isle.' Thus, an amusing story is contained 
in an Irish elegy to the effect that on the death of 
one of the Knights of Kerry, when the Banshee was 
heard to lament his decease at Dingle — a seaport 
town, the property of those knights — all the 


merchants of this place were thrown into a state of 
alarm lest the mom-nful and ominous wailing 
should be a forewarning of the death of one of 
them, but, as the poet humorously points out, there 
was no necessity for them to be anxious on this 
point. Although, through misfortune, a family 
may be brought down from high estate to the rank 
of peasant tenants, the Banshee never leaves 
nor forgets it till the last member has been 
gathered to his fathers in the churchyard. The 
MacCarthys, O'Flahertys, Magraths, O'Neils, 
O'Kileys, O'Sullivans, O'Eeardons, have their 
Banshees, though many representatives of these 
names are in abject poverty.^ 

* The Banshee,' says Mr. McAnally, * is really a 
disembodied soul, that of one who in life was 
strongly attached to the family, or who had good 
reason to hate all its members. Thus, in different 
instances, the Banshee's song may be inspired by 
different motives. When the Banshee loves those 
whom she calls, the song is a low, soft chant, giving 
notice, indeed, of the close proximity of the angel of 
death, but with a tenderness of tone that reassures 
* McAnally : Irish Wonders, p. 112. 

T 2 


the one destined to die, and comforts the survivors ; 
rather a welcome than a warning, and having 
in its tones a thrill of exultation, as though the 
messenger spirit were bringing glad tidings to him 
summoned to join the waiting throng of his ances- 
tors.' To a doomed member of the family of the 
O'Eeardons the Banshee generally appears in the 
form of a beautiful woman, ' and sings a song so 
sweetly solemn as to reconcile him to his approach- 
ing fate.' But if, during his lifetime, the Banshee 
was an enemy of the family, the cry is the scream 
of a fiend, howling with demoniac delight over the 
coming death agony of another of his foes. 

Hence, in Ireland, a source of dread to many a 
family against which she has an enmity is the 
* hateful Banshee.' * It appears,' adds McAnally,* 
' that a noble family, whose name is still familiar in 
Mayo, is attended by a Banshee of this description 
— the spirit of a young girl, deceived, and after- 
wards murdered by a former head of the family. 
With her dying breath she cursed her murderer, 
and promised she would attend him and his for 
ever. After many years the chieftain reformed his 

» Irish Wonders, 1888, p. 114. 


ways, and his youthful crime was almost forgotten 
even by himself, when one night, as he and his 
family were seated by the fire, the most terrible 
shrieks were suddenly heard outside the castle 
walls. All ran out, but saw nothing. During the 
night the screams continued as though the castle 
were besieged by demons, and the unhappy man 
recognised in the cry of the Banshee the voice of 
the young girl he had murdered. The next night 
he was assassinated by one of his followers, when 
again the wild unearthly screams were heard 
exulting over his fate. Since that night the '' hate- 
ful Banshee " has, it is said, never failed to notify 
to the family, with shrill cries of revengeful glad- 
ness, when the time of one of their number has 

Among some of the recorded instances of the 
Banshee's appearance may be mentioned one re- 
. lated by Miss Lefrau, the niece of Sheridan, in the 
Memoirs of her grandmother, Mrs. Frances Sheridan. 
From this account we gather that Miss Elizabeth 
Sheridan was a firm believer in the Banshee, and 
firmly maintained that the one attached to the 
Sheridan family was distinctly heard lamenting 


beneath the windows of the family residence before 
the news arrived from France of Mrs. Frances Sheri- 
dan's death at Blois. She added that a niece of Miss 
Sheridan's made her very angry by observing that 
as Mrs. Frances Sheridan was by birth a Chamber- 
laine, a family of EngHsh extraction, she had no 
right to the guardianshi^D of an Irish fairy, and that 
therefore the Banshee must have made a mistake. 
Then there is the well-known case related by Lady 
Fanshawe, who tells us how, when on a visit in 
Ireland, she was awakened at midnight by a sujDer- 
natural scream outside her window. On looking 


out she saw a jonng and rather handsome woman, 
with dishevelled hair, who eventually vanished with 
two shrieks similar to that which had at first 
attracted her attention. On communicating the 
circumstance in the morning, her host replied, * A 
near relation of mine died last night in the castle, 
and before such an event ha^^pens, the female 
spectre whom you have seen is always visible.' 

This weird apparition is generally supposed to 
assume the form of a woman, sometimes young, but 
more often old. She is usually attuned m a loose 
white drapery, and her long ragged locks hang over 


her thin shoulders. As night time approaches she 
occasionally becomes visible, and pours forth her 
mournful wail— a sound said to resemble the 
melancholy moaning of the wind : 

Who sits upon the heath forlorn, 
With robe so free and tresses worn ? 
Anon she pours a harrowing strain, 
And then she sits all mute again ! 
Now peals the wild funereal cry. 
And now — it sinlis into a sigh. 

Oftentimes she is not seen but only heard, yet 
she is supposed to be always clearly discernible to 
the person upon whom she specially waits. Re- 
specting the history of the Banshee, popular tradi- 
tion in many instances accounts for its presence as 
the spirit of some mortal woman whose destinies 
have become linked by some accident with those 
of the family she follows. It is related how the 
Banshee of the family of the O'Briens of Thomond 
is related to have been originally a woman who 
had been seduced by one of the chiefs of that race 
— an act of indiscretion which ultimately brought 
upon her misfortune and death. 

* Sometimes the song of the Banshee is heard,* 


writes Mr. McAnally/ * at the beginning of a course 
of conduct, a line of action, that has ended fatally.' 
A story is told in Kerry of a young girl who engaged 
herself to a youth, but at the moment the promise 
of marriage was given, the low sad wail was heard 
by both above their heads. The young man 
deserted her, she died of a broken heart, and, on 
the night before her death, the Banshee's ominous 
song was heard outside her mother's cottage 
window. On another occasion, we are told by the 
same authority, one of the Flahertys of Galway 
marched out of his castle with his men on a foray, 
and, as his troops filed through the gateway, the 
Banshee was heard high above the towers of the 
fortress. The next night she sang again, and was 
heard no more for a month, when he heard the 
wail under his window, and on the following day 
his followers brought back his corpse. One of the 
O'Neils of Shane Castle, Antrim, heard the Ban- 
shee as he started on a journey, but while on the 
same journey he was accidentally killed. Accord- 
ing to Lady Wilde, ' at Lord O'Neil's residence, 
Shane's Castle, there is a room appropriated to the 
* Irish Wonders, p. 112. 


use of the Banshee, and she often appears there, 
sometimes shrouded and in a dark, mist-Hke cloak. 
At other times she is seen as a beautiful young 
girl, with long red-gold hair, and wearing a green 
kirtle and scarlet mantle, covered with gold, after 
the Irish fashion.' She adds that there is no harm 
or fear of evil in her mere presence, unless she is 
seen in the act of crying. But this is a fatal sign, 
and the mournful wail is a sure and certain pro- 
phecy that the angel of death is waiting for one of 
the family.^ 

Mr. Crofton Croker, in his * Fairy Legends and 
Traditions of the South of Ireland,' has given 
several entertaining stories of the Banshee ; but 
adds, that since these spirits have become amenable 
to vulgar laws they have lost much of their 
romantic character. The introduction of the Ban- 
shee in the following stanza of a ' keening ' — an 
Irish term for a wild song of lamentation poured 
forth over a dead body by certain mourners 
employed for the purpose — indicates the popular 
feeling on the subject. It was composed on a 
young man named Eyan, whose mother speaks — 

1 Ancient Cares, Charms, and Usages of Ireland, p. 84. 


'Twas the Banshee's lonely wailing, 

"Well I knew the voice of death, 
On the night wind slowly sailing 

O'er the bleak and gloomy heath. 

If a member of an Irish family dies abroad, the 
Banshee notifies his misfortune at home. When 
the Duke of WelHngton died, the Banshee was 
heard waihng round the house of his ancestors, 
and during the Napoleonic campaigns she often 
announced at home the death of Irish officers and 
soldiers — an occurrence which happened on the 
night preceding the Battle of the Boyne. * Indeed,' 
says Mr. McAnally, 'the Banshee has given notice at 
the family seat in Ireland of deaths in battle fought 
in every part of the world ; from every point to which 
Irish regiments have followed the roll of the British 
drums, news of the. prospective shedding of Irish 
blood has been brought home.' 

* The Welsh have also their Banshee, which 
generally makes its appearance,' writes Mr. Wirt 
Sikes,* * in the most curdling form,' and is regarded 
as an omen of death. It is supposed to come after 
dusk, and to flap its leathern wings against the 

' British GoUins, pp. 212-216. 


window where the sick person happens to be. Nor 
is this all, for in a broken, howling tone, it calls on 
the one who is to quit mortality by his or her name 
several times. There is an old legend of the * Ellyl- 
lon,' a prototype of the Scotch and Irish Banshee, 
which usually appears as an old crone with stream- 
ing hair and a coat of blue, making its presence 
manifest by its ominous scream of death. The 
Welsh have a further form of the Banshee in the 
' Cyhyraeth,' which is never seen, although the 
noise it makes is such as to inspire terror in those 
who chance to hear it. Thus, in some of the Welsh 
villages it is heard passing through the empty 
streets and lanes by night groaning dismally, and 
rattling the window- shutters as it goes along. 
According to the local belief it is only heard * before 
the death of such as are of strayed mind, or who 
have been long ill ; but it always comes when an 
epidemic is about to visit the neighbourhood.' As 
an instance of how superstitions are remitted from 
one country to another, it is told that in America 
there are tales of the Banshee imported from 
Ireland along with the sons of that soil. 




The romance of the sea has always attracted 
interest, and, as Buckle once remarked, * the 
credulity of sailors is notorious, and every litera- 
ture contains evidence of the multiplicity of their 
superstitions, and of the tenacity with which they 
cling to them.' This is not surprising, for many 
of the weird old fancies with which the legendary 
lore of the sea abounds originated in certain atmo- 
spherical phenomena which were once a mystery to 
our seafaring community. In a * New Catalogue 
of Vulgar Errors ' (1761) the writer says : ' 1 look 
upon sailors to care as Httle of what becomes of 
themselves as any people under the sun; yet no 
people are so much terrified at the thoughts of an 
apparition. Their sea-songs are full of them ; they 
firmly believe in their existence, and honest Jack 


Tar shall be more frightened at the glimmering of 
the moon upon the tackling of a ship, than he 
would be if a Frenchman were to place a blunder- 
bus at his head.' The occasional reflections of 
mountains, cities, and ships in mirage gave rise 
to many strange stories of spectral lands. Early 
instances of this popular fancy occur, and Mrs. 
Jameson, in her ' Sacred and Legendary Art,' quotes 
an old Venetian legend of 1339, relating to the 
ring with which the Adriatic was first wedded. 
During a storm a fisherman was required to row 
three men, whom he afterwards learns were St. 
Mark, St. George, and St. Nicholas, first to certain 
churches, and then over to the entrance of the port. 
But there a huge Saracen galley was seen with 
frightful demons on board, which spectral craft the 
three men caused to sink, thus saving the city. On 
leaving the boat, the boatman is presented with a 
ring. In the Venetian academy is a painting by 
Giorgione of this phantom ship, with a demon 
crew, who, terrified at the presence of the three 
holy men, jump overboard, or cling to the rigging, 
while the masts flame with fire, and cast a lurid 
glare on the water. ColHn de Plancy, in his 


' Sacred Legends of the Middle Ages,' tells us how 
at Boulogne, in 663, while the people were at 
prayers, a strange ship — without guide or pilot — 
was observed approaching the shore, with the 
Virgin on board, who indicated to the people a site 
for her chapel — delusions which may be classed in 
the same category as the ' phantom ship.' Novel- 
ists and poets have made graphic use of such well- 
known apparitions, variations of which occur in 
every maritime country. But the author accounts 
for this philosophically, adding that ' a great deal 
may be said in favour of men troubled with 
the scurvy, the concomitants of which disorder are, 
generally, faintings and the hip, and horrors with- 
out any ground for them.' 

There were few ships in days gone by that 
' doubled the Cape ' but owned among the crew 
some who had seen the * Flying Dutchman,' a 
phantom to which Sir Walter Scott alludes as the 
harbinger of woe. This ship was distinguished 
from earthly vessels by bearing a press of sail 
when all others were unable to show an inch of 

The story goes that ' Falkenburg was a noble- 


man who murdered his brother and his bride in a 
fit of passion, and was condemned to wander to- 
wards the north. On arriving at the sea-shore, he 
found awaiting him a boat, with a man in it, who 
said, " Expectamus te." He entered the boat, 
attended by his good and his evil spirit, and went 
on board a spectral bark in the harbour. There 
he still lingers, while these spirits play dice for his 
soul. For six hundred years the ship has wan- 
dered the seas, and mariners still see her in the 
German Ocean, sailing northwards, without helm 
or helmsman. She is painted grey, has coloured 
sails, a pale flag, and no crew. Flames issue from 
the masthead at night.' ^ There are numerous 
versions of this popular legend, and O'Eeilly, in his 
* Songs of Southern Seas,' says — 

Heaven help the ship near which the demon sailor steers ! 
The doom of those is sealed to whom the phantom ship 

They'll never reach their destin'dport, they'll see their homes 

no more, 
They who see the Flying Dutchman never, never reach the 


Captain Marryat made this legend the basis of 

^ See Bassett's Legends and SuiKTstitions of the Sea, pp. 346 


his * Phantom Ship,' and Longfellow, in his ' Tales 
of a Wayside Inn,' powerfully tells of — 

A ship of the dead that sails the sea, 

And is called the Carmilhan, 

A ghostly ship, with a ghostly crew. 

In tempests she appears. 

And before the gale, or against the gale, 

She sails, without a rag of sail, 

Without a helmsman steers. 

And ill-betide the luckless ship 
That meets the Carmilhan ! 
Over her decks the seas will leap, 
She must go down into the deep, 
And perish, mouse and man. 

There are, also, a host of stories of spectral ships, 
some of which are still credited by sailors. The 
Germans have their phantom ships, to meet which 
is regarded as an omen of disaster. In one instance, 
the crew is said to consist of ghosts of condemned 
sinners, who serve one hundred years in each grade, 
until each has a short tour as captain. This 
mysterious vessel is described by Oscar L. B. Wolff 
in ' The Phantom Ship ' : 

For the ship was black, her masts were black, 

And her sails coal-black as death; 
And the Evil- One steered at the helm, and laughed, 

And mocked at their failing breath. 


Swedish sailors have a vessel of this kind. She 
is so large that it takes three weeks to go from poop 
to prow, and hence orders are transmitted on horse- 
back. Danish folk-lore has its spectral ship, and a 
Schleswick-Holstein tradition relates how a maiden 
was carried off by her lover in a spectral ship, as 
one day she sat on the shore bewailing his absence. 
In ' Melusine ' for September 1884,^ it is stated that, 
* in many localities in Lower Brittany, stories are 
cm-rent of a huge ship manned by giant human 
forms and dogs. The men are reprobates guilty of 
horrible crimes ; the dogs, demons set to guard 
them and inflict on them a thousand tortures. Such 
a vessel wanders ceaselessly from sea to sea, without 
entering port or casting anchor, and will do so to 
the end of the world. No vessel should allow it to 
fall aboard, for its crew would suddenly disappear. 
The orders, in this strange craft, are given through 
huge conch- shells, and, the noise being heard several 
miles off, it is easy to avoid her. Besides, there 
is nothing to fear, if the " Ave Maria " is repeated, 
and the Saints appealed to, especially St. Anne 

^ Quoted in Bassett's Legends of the Sea, p. 351. 



Stories of phantom ships are found, more or 
less, all over the world, and are associated with 
many a romantic and tragic tale. Bret Harte ^ re- 
lates how some children go on board a hulk to play, 
but it breaks away from its moorings, drifts out to 
sea, and is lost. Yet at times there are heard : 

The voices of children, still at plaj^ 
In a phantom hulk that drifts away 
Through channels whose waters never fail. 

And Whittier - tells how the young captain of a 
schooner visits the Labrador coast where, in a certain 
secluded bay, two beautiful sisters live with their 
mother. Both fall in love with him, and, just as 
the younger is about to meet her lover and fly with 
him, she is imprisoned in her room by her mother, 
whereupon her elder sister goes in her stead, and is 
carried to sea in the vessel. The disappointed lover, 
on learning the deception, returns only to find his 
loved one dead. But the schooner, adds Whittier, 
never returned home and : 

Even yet, at Seven Isle Baj% 
Is told the ghastly tale 

^ Poems : A Greypoint Legend, 1797' 
' The Wreck of the Schooner Breeze. 


Of a weird unspoken sail. 

She flits before no earthly blast, 

With the red sign fluttering from her mast, 

The ghost of the Schooner Breeze. 

In Dana's ' Buccaneer,' the pirate carries a 
lady to sea, who jumps overboard, and on the 
anniversary of her death : 

A ship ! and all on fire ! hull, yards, and mast, 
Her sails are sheets of flame ; she's nearing fast ! 

Occasionally a spectre ship is seen at Cap 
d'Espoir, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is 
commonly reported to be the ghost of the flag- 
ship of a fleet sent to reduce the French forts by 
Queen Anne, and which was wrecked here, and 
all hands. On this phantom ship, which is 
crowded with soldiers, lights are seen, and on the 
bowsprit stands an officer, pointing to the shore with 
one hand, while a woman is on the other side. The 
lights suddenly go out, a scream is heard, and the ill- 
fated vessel sinks. Under one form or another, the 
phantom ship has long been a world-wide piece of 
folk-lore, and even in an Ojibway tale, when a 
maiden is on the eve of being sacrificed to the spirit 

u 2 


of the falls, a spectral canoe, with a fairy in it, 
takes her place as a sacrifice. 

Dennys, in his * Folk-lore of China,' gives a novel 
variety of the phantom ship. The story goes that 
a horned serpent was found in a tiger's cage near 
Foochow by a party of tiger-hunters. They tried 
to ship it to Canton, but during the voyage the ser- 
pent escaped, through a flash of lightning striking 
the cage and splitting it. Thereupon the captain 
offered a thousand dollars to anyone who would de- 
stroy the monster, but its noxious breath killed two 
sailors who attempted the task. Eventually the 
junk was abandoned, and is still believed to cruise 
about the coast, and cautious natives will not board 
a derelict junk. 

One of the chief features of many of these 
phantom -ship stories is the idea of retribution for 
evil deeds, as in the following, told by Irving in the 
* Chronicles of Wolfert's Boost.' A certain Eam- 
nout van Dam had ' danced and drank until midnight 
— Saturday — when he entered his boat to return 
home. He was warned that he was on the verge 
of Sunday morning, but he pulled off, swearing that 
he would not land until he reached Spiting Devil, 


if it took him a month of Sundays. He was never 
seen afterwards, but may be heard plying his oars, 
being the Flying Dutchman of the Tappan Sea, 
doomed to ply between Kakiot and Spiting Devil 
until the day of judgment.' Moore in his account 
of the phantom ship seen in the description of Dead- 
man's Island, where wrecks were once common, 
writes : 

To Deaclman's Isle, on the eve of the blast, 
To Deadman's Isle, she speeds her fast, 
By skeleton shapes, her sails are fiurled, 
And the hand that steers is not of this world. 

Turning to our own country, similar phantom 
vessels have long been supposed to haunt the coast, 
and Mr. Hunt ^ describes one that visited the 
Cornish shores on the occasion of a storm, and to 
rescue which delusive bark help was despatched : 
* Away they pulled, and the boat which had been 
first launched still kept ahead by dint of mechanical 
power and skill. At length the helmsman cried, 
" Stand by to board her." The vessel came so close 
to the boat that they could see the men, and the 
bow oarsman made a grasp at the bulwarks. His 

^ Bomances of West of England, pp. 362-364. 


hand found nothing soHd and he fell. Ship and light 
then disappeared. The next day the " Neptune " 
of London was wrecked, and all perished. The 
captain's body was picked up after a few days, and 
that of his son also.' Among other Cornish stories 
may also be mentioned those known as the ' Pirate- 
wrecker and the Death Ship ; ' and the ' Spectre 
Ship of Porthcurno.' Occasionally off the Lizard a 
phantom lugger is seen, and Bottrell ^ tells how, at 
times, not only spectral ships, but the noise of fall- 
ing spars, &c., are heard during an incoming fog. 

Scotch sailors have their stories of phantom 
ships. Thus a spectral vessel — the ghostly bark 
of a bridal party maliciously wrecked — is said to 
appear in the Solway, always hovering near a ship 
that is doomed to be wrecked ; and Cunningham ^ 
has given a graphic account of two phantom pirate 
ships. The story goes that, for a time, two Danish 
pirates were permitted to perform wicked deeds on 
the deep, but were at last condemned to perish by 
wreck for the evil they had caused. On a certain 
night they were seen approaching the shore — the 

^ Traditions and Fireside Stories of West Cormvall. 

2 Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Feasa?itry, p. 338. 


one crowded with people, and the other carrying on 

its deck a spectral shape. Then four young men 

put off in a boat that had been sent from one ship, 

to join her, but, on reaching the ship, both vessels 

sank where they were. On the anniversary of their 

wreck, and before a gale, these two vessels are 

supposed to approach the shore, and to be distinctly 

visible. A Highland legend records how a large ship 

— the * Rotterdam ' — which went down with all on 

board, is seen at times with her ghostly crew, a sure 

indication of disaster. But perhaps this superstition 

has been most firmly riveted in the popular mind 

by Coleridge's 'Ancient Mariner,' wherein an 

ominous sign is seen afar off prefiguring the death 

of himself and his comrades. It is a spectre ship in 

which Death and Life-in-Death play at dice for the 

possession of the crew — the latter winning the 


Her lips were red, her looks were free, 
Her locks were yellow as gold ; 
Her skin was white as leprosy, 
The night-mare Life-in-Death was she, 
Who thicks man's blood with cold. 

Stories of ghosts having appeared at sea have 
been told from early days, and have everywhere 


been a fruitful source of terror to sailors. But this 
is not surprising for, as Scot says/ 'innumerable 
are the reports of accidents unto such as frequent 
the seas, as fishermen and sailors, who discourse of 
noises, flashes, shadows, echoes, and other things, 
nightly seen or heard upon the waters.' Brand,^ 
for instance, narrates an amusing tale of a sea ghost. 
The ship's cook, who had one of his legs shorter 
than the other, died on a homeward passage and 
was buried at sea. A few nights afterwards his 
ghost was seen walking before the ship, and the 
crew were in a panic. It was found however that 
the cause of this alarm was part of a maintop, the 
remains of some wreck floating before them that 
simulated the dead man's walk. On another 
occasion a ship's crew fancied they had not only 
seen but ' smelled ' a ghost— a piece of folly which 
so enraged the captain that he ordered the boat- 
swain's mate to give some of the sailors a dozen 
lashes, which entirely cleared the ship of the ghost 
during the remainder of the voyage. It was afterwards 
ascertained that the smell proceeded from a dead rat 

* Discoverie of Witchcraft. 
2 Po]p, Antig^, iii. p. 85. 


behind some beer-barrels. In the same ^s'ay, many 
a ghost story might be explained which, proceeding 
from natural causes, has been the source of super- 
stitious dread among the seafaring community. 
Cheever, in his ' Sea and Sailor,' referring to the 
credulity of sailors, says : ' The sailor is a profound 
believer in ghosts. One of these nocturnal visitants 
was supposed to visit our ship. It was with the 
utmost difficulty that the crew could be made to 
turn in at night. You might have seen the most 
athletic, stout-hearted sailor on board, when called 
to take his night-watch aloft, glancing at the yards 
and tackling of the ship for the phantom. It was 
a long time, in the opinion of the crew, before the 
phantom left the ship.' It may be remembered that 
Sir Walter Scott ^ relates how the captain of an 
English ship was assured by the crew that the 
ghost of a murdered sailor, every night, visited the 
ship. So convinced were the sailors of the appear- 
ance of this phantom that they refused to sail, but 
the mystery was cleared up by the discovery of a 

Occasionally, the ghost of a former captain is 
' Letters on Demonology aiid ]Yitclicraft 


supposed to visit a vessel and to warn the crew of 
an approaching storm. Symondson in his ' Two 
Years abaft the Mast ' records the appearance of 
such an apparition, at one time *to prescribe a 
change of course, at another, in wet and calm 
weather, quietly seated in his usual place on the 
poop deck.' ^ Sometimes similar warnings have 
come from other sources. Thus a curious occur- 
rence is told by Mary Howitt, which happened in 
1664 to Captain Eogers, K.N., who was in com- 
mand of the ' Society,' a vessel bound from Eng- 
land to Virginia. The story goes that * he was 
heading in for the capes, and was, as he reckoned, 
after heaving the lead, three hundred miles from 
them. A vision appeared to him in the night, tell- 
ing him to turn out, and look about. He did so, 
found all alert, and retired again. The vision 
appeared again, and told him to heave the lead. 
He arose, caused the lead to be cast, and found but 
seven fathoms. Greatly frightened, he tacked ship, 
and the daylight showed him to be under the capes, 
instead of two hundred miles at sea.^ With this 

* Quoted by bassett in his Legends and Superstitions of the 
Sea, p. 288. 
=» Ibid. p. 286. 


story may be compared a mysterious story told m 
the * Chicago Times ' of March, 1885. 

It appears that, as two men had fallen from the 
topmast head of a lake-vessel, the rumour spread 
thai the ship was an unlucky one. Accordingly, 
writes one of the crew, ' on its arrival at Buffalo, 
the men went on shore as soon as they were paid 
off. They said the ship had lost her luck. While 
we were discharging at the elevator, the story got 
round, and some of the grain-trimmers refused to 
work on her. Even the mate was affected by it. 
At last we got ready to sail for Cleveland, where we 
were to load coal. The captain managed to get a 
crew by gomg to a crimp, who ran them in, fresh 
from salt water. They came on board two-thirds 
drunk, and the mate was steering them into the 
forecastle, when one of them stopped and said, 
pointing aloft, " What have you got a figurehead on 
the mast for?" The mate looked up and then 
turned pale. " It's Bill," he said, and with that the 
whole lot jumped on to the dock. I didn't see any- 
thing, but the mate told the captain to look for 
another officer. The captain was so much affected 
that he put me on another schooner, and then 


shipped a new crew, and sailed for Cleveland. He 
never got there. He was sunk by a steamer off 

Another curious phantom warning to sailors 
seen in years gone by was the ' Hooper,' or the 
' Hooter,' of Sennen Cove, Cornwall. This was sup- 
posed to be a spirit which took the form of a band 
of misty vapour, stretching across the bay, so opaque 
that nothing could be seen through it. According to 
Mr. Hunt,^ ' it was regarded as a kindly interposi- 
tion of some ministering spirit, to warn the fisher- 
man against venturing to sea. This appearance 
was always followed, and often suddenly, by a 
severe storm. It is seldom or never now seen. 
One profane old fisherman would not be warned by 
the bank of fog, and, as the weather was fine on 
the shore, he persuaded some young men to join 
him. They manned a boat, and the aged leader, 
having with him a threshing-flail, declared that he 
would drive the spirit away, and he vigorously beat 
the fog with the '' threshel," as the flail is called. 
The boat passed through the fog, and went to sea, but 
a severe storm arose, and no one ever saw the boat 
* Eomances of West of England, p. 367. 


or the men again, since which time the '' Hooper " 
has been rarely seen.' Similarly a mist over the 
river Cymal, in Wales, is thought to be the spirit 
of a traitoress, who lost her life in the lake close 
hj. Tradition says she had conspired with pirates 
to rob her lord of his domain, and was defeated by 
an enchanter.^ 

But sailors' yarns are so proverbially remarkable 
that the reader must estimate their value for him- 
self, not forgetting how large a factor in their pro- 
duction is the imagination, worked upon by nervous 
credulity and superstitious fear, a striking instance 
of which is recorded by a correspondent of the 
' Gentleman's Magazine : ' ' My friend. Captain 
Mott, E.N,, used frequently to repeat an anecdote of 
a seaman under his command. This individual, who 
was a good sailor and a brave man, suffered much 
trouble and anxiety from his superstitious fears. 
\Yhen on the night watch, he would see sights and 
hear noises in the rigging and the deep, which kept 
him in a perpetual fever of alarm. One day the 
poor fellow reported upon deck that the devil, whom 
he knew by his horns and cloven foot, stood by the 
» Wirt Sikes : British Goblins. 


side of his hammock the preceding night, and told 
him that he had only three days to live. His 
messmates endeavom*ed to remove his despondency 
by ridicule, but without effect ; and the next morn- 
ing he told the tale to Captain Mott, with this 
addition, that the fiend had paid him a second 
nocturnal visit, announcing a repetition of the 
melancholy tidings. The captain in vain expostu- 
lated with him on the folly of indulging such 
groundless apprehensions ; and the morning of the 
fatal day being exceedingly stormy, the man, with 
many others, was ordered to the topmast to perform 
some duty among the rigging. Before he ascended 
he bade his messmates farewell, telling them that 
he had received a third warning from the devil, 
and that he was confident he should be dead before 
night. He went aloft with the foreboding of evil 
on his mind, and in less than five minutes he lost 
his hold, fell upon the deck, and was killed on the 




According to a popular ghost doctrine, the sph'its 
of the departed * generally come in their habits as 
they lived,' and as George Cruikshank once re- 
marked,^ 'there is no difference in this respect 
between the beggar and the king.' For they 
come — 
Some in rags, and some in jags, and some in silken gowns. 

And he adds that all narrators agree that 'the 
spirits appear in similar or the same dresses which 
they were accustomed to wear dm'ing their lifetime, 
so exactly alike that the ghost- seer could not 
possibly be mistaken as to the identity of the 
individual.' Horatio, describing the ghost to 
Hamlet, says — 

A figin^e like yom- father, 
firmed at all points, exactly cap-a-pe. 

^ A Discovery Concerning Ghosts, p. 3. 


And it is further stated that the ghost was armed 
' from top to toe/ ' from head to foot,' that ' he 
wore his beaver up ; ' and when Hamlet sees his 
father's spirit he exclaims — 

Wliat may this mean, 
That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel, 
Eevisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon ? 

It is the familiar dress worn in lifetime that is, 
in most cases, one of the distinguishing features of 
the ghost, and when Sir George Villiers wanted to 
give a warning to his son, the Duke of Buckingham, 
his spirit appeared to one of the duke's servants 

* in the very clothes he used to wear.' Mrs. Crowe, ^ 
some years ago, gave an account of an apparition 
which appeared at a house in Sarratt, Hertford- 
shire. It was that of a well-dressed gentleman, in 
a blue coat and bright gilt buttons, but without a 
head. It seems that this was reported to be the 
ghost of a poor man of that neighbourhood who 
had been murdered, and whose head had been cut 
off. He could, therefore, only be recognised by his 

* blue coat and bright gilt buttons.' Indeed, many 

* Night Side of Nature. 


ghosts have been nicknamed from the kmds of 
dress in which they have been in the habit of 
appearing. Thus the ghost at Allanbank was 
known as 'PearHn Jean,' from a species of lace 
made of thread which she wore ; and the ' White 
Lady ' at Ashley Hall — like other ghosts who have 
borne the same name — from the white drapery in 
which she presented herself. Some lady ghosts 
have been styled * Silky,' from the rustling of 
their silken costume, in the wearing of which they 
have maintained the phantom grandeur of their 
earthly Hfe. There was the ' Silky ' at Black 
Heddon who used to appear in silken attire, often- 
times * rattling in her silks ' ; and the spirit of 
Denton Hall— also termed ' Silky ' — walks about 
in a white silk dress of antique fashion. This last 
* Silky ' * was thought to be the ghost of a lady who 
was mistress to the profligate Duke of Argyll in 
the reign of Wihiam IH., and died suddenly, not 
without suspicion of murder, at Chirton, near 
Shields — one of his residences. The " Banshee of 
Loch Nigdal," too, was arrayed in a silk dress, green 
in colour. These traditions date from a period 
when silk was not in common use, and therefore 



attracted notice in country places.' ^ Some years 
ago a ghost appeared at Hampton Court,^ habited 
in a black satin dress with white kid gloves. The 
* White Lady of Skipsea' makes her midnight 
serenades clothed in long white drapery. Lady 
Bothwell, who haunted the mansion of Wood- 
houselee, always appeared in white ; and the appa- 
rition of the mansion of Houndwood, in Berwick- 
shire — bearing the name of * Chappie ' — is clad in 
silk attire. 

One of the ghosts seen at the celebrated 
Willington Mill was that of a female in greyish 
garments. Sometimes she was said to be wrapped 
in a sort of mantle, with her head depressed and 
her hands crossed on her lap. Walton Abbey had 
its headless lady who used to haunt a certain 
wainscotted chamber, dressed in blood-stained 
garments, with her infant in her arms ; and, in 
short, most of the ghosts that have tenanted our 
country-houses have been noted for their distinctive 

Daniel de Foe, in his 'Essay on the History 

* Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 270. 
2 See All the Year Bound, June 22, 1867. 


and Eeality of Apparitions,' has given many 
minute details as to the dress of a ghost. He tells 
a laughable and highly amusing story of some 
robbers who broke into a mansion in the country, 
and, whilst ransacking one of the rooms, they saw, 
in a chair, ' a grave, ancient man, with a long full- 
bottomed wig, and a rich brocaded gown,' &c. 
One of the robbers threatened to tear off his ' rich 
brocaded gown ' ; another hit at him with a fire- 
lock, and was alarmed at seeing it pass through the 
air ; and then the old man * changed into the most 
horrible monster that ever was seen, with eyes like 
two fiery daggers red hot.' The same apparition 
encountered them in different rooms, and at last 
the servants, who were at the top of the house, 
throwing some ' hand grenades ' down the chimneys 
of these rooms, the thieves were dispersed. With- 
out adding further stories of this kind, which may 
be taken for what they are worth, it is a generally 
received belief in ghost lore that spirits are accus- 
tomed to appear in the dresses which they wore 
in their lifetime — a notion credited from the days 
of Pliny the Younger to the present day. 

But the fact of ghosts appearing in earthly 

X 2 


raiment has excited the ridicule of many philoso- 
phers, who, even admitting the possibiHty of a 
spiritual manifestation, deny that there can be the 
ghost of a suit of clothes. George Cruikshank, 
too, who was no beHever in ghosts, sums up the 
matter thus : ' As it is clearly impossible for spirits 
to wear dresses made of the materials of the earth, 
we should like to know if there are spiritual out- 
fitting shops for the clothing of ghosts who pay 
visits on earth.' Whatever the objections may be 
to the appearance of ghosts in human attire, they 
have not hitherto overthrown the belief in their 
being seen thus clothed, and Byron, describing the 
' Black Friar ' who haunted the cloisters and other 
parts of Newstead Abbey, tells us that he was always 

In cowl, and beads, and dusky garb. 

Indeed, as Dr. T3dor remarks,^ ' it is an habitual 
feature of the ghost stories of the civilised, as of 
the savage, world, that the ghost comes dressed, 
and even dressed in well-known clothing worn in 
life.' And he adds that the doctrine of object-souls 

Prmitivc Culture, i. p. 480. 


is held by the Algonqum tribes, the islanders of 
the Fijian group, and the Karens of Burmah — it 
being supposed that not only men and beasts have 
souls, but inorganic things. Thas, Mariner de- 
scribing the Fijian belief, writes : ' If a stone or 
any other substance is broken, immortality is 
equally its reward ; nay, artificial bodies have 
equal good luck with men, and hogs, and yams. 
If an axe or a chisel is worn out or broken up, 
away flies its soul for the service of the gods. The 
Fijians can further show you a sort of natural well, 
or deep hole in the ground, at one of their islands, 
across the bottom of which runs a stream of water, 
in which you may clearly see the souls of men 
and women, beasts and plants, stocks and stones, 
canoes and horses, and of all the broken utensils 
of this frail world, swimming, or rather tumbling 
along, one over the other, pell-mell, into the regions 
of immortality.^ As it has been observed, animistic 
conceptions of this kind are no more irrational than 
the popular idea prevalent in civilised communities 
as to spirits appearing in all kinds of garments. 

' See Letoiirneau's Sociology, p. 250 ; Sir John Lubbock's 
Origin of Civilisation, and Primitive Conditio7i of Man, 1870, 
p. 246. 




A joUy place, said he, in days of old, 

But something ails it now : the spot is cm'st. 


A VARIETY of strange causes, such as secret murder, 
acts of treacher}^ unatoned crime, buried treasures, 
and such-like incidents belongmg to the seamy side 
of family history, have originated, at one time or 
another, the ghostly stories connected with so many 
a house throughout the country. Eobert Brownmg 
-has graphically described the mysteries of a haunted 
house : 

At nightj when doors are shut, 

And the wood-worm picks, 

And the death-watch ticks, 
And the bar has a flag of smut, 
And a cat's in the water-butt — 


And the socket floats and flares, 

And the house-beams groan, 

And a foot unknown 
Is surmised on the garret stands. 

And the locks shp imawares. 

Although in some cases centuries have elapsed 
since a certain house became haunted, and several 
generations have come and passed away, still, with 
ceaseless persistency, the restless spirit hovers about 
in all kinds of uncanny ways, reminding us of Hood's 
romance of ' The Haunted House.' 

For over all there hung a cloud of fear, 
A sense of mystery the sphrit daunted, 
And said, as plain as whisper in the ear. 
The place is haunted ! 

Corby Castle, Cumberland, was famous for its 
* Eadiant Boy ; ' Peel Castle had its ' Mauthe Doog ; ' 
and Dobb Park Lodge was noted for ' the Talking 
Dog.' Cortachy Castle, the seat of the Earl of Air lie, 
is noted for its ' Drummer ; ' and a noted Westmore- 
land ghost was that of the 'bad Lord Lonsdale,' 
locally known as Jemmy Lowther, which created 
much alarm at Lowther Hall'; but of recent years this 
miscreant sjDirit has been silent, having, it is said, 


been laid for ever under a large rock called Wallow 
Crag. Strange experiences were associated with 
Hinton Ampner Manor House, Hampshire/ and 
when, in 1797, it was pulled down, * under the floor 
of the lobby was found a box containing bones, and 
what was said to be the skull of a monkey. No 
regular inquiry was made into the matter, and no 
professional o^^inion was ever sought as to the real 
character of the relic' WyecoUer Hall, near Colne, 
is visited once a year by a spectre horseman ; and 
some years ago Hackwood House, an old mansion 
near Basingstoke, purchased from Lord Bolton by 
Lord Westbury, was said to have its haunted room, 
the phantom assuming the appearance of a woman 
clothed in grey. Piamhurst Manor House, Kent, 
was disturbed by weird and mysterious noises, and 
at Barton Hall, Bath, in 18G8, a phantom is said 
to have appeared, displaying a human countenance, 
but devoid of eyes. 

Allanbank, a seat of the Stuarts — a family of 
Scotch baronets, has long been haunted by 'Pearlin 
Jean,' one of the most remarkable ghosts in Scot- 
land. On one occasion, seven ministers were called 
_^ ' See Ingram's Haunted HonteSt 2nd S. pp. 159-180. 



in to lay this restless spirit, but to no purpose. 
Creslow Manor House, Buckinghamshire, has its 
ghost, and Glamis Castle has its famous ' Haunted 
Eoom,' which, it is said, was walled up. At Hilton 
Castle there was the time-honoured * Cold Lad,' 
which Surtees would lead us to suppose was one of 
the household spirits known as ' Brownies.' But, 
according to one local legend, in 3'ears gone by a 
servant-boy was ill-treated and kept shut up in a 
cupboard, and is supposed to have received the 
name of ' Cold Lad ' from his condition when dis- 
covered. Sundry apparitions seem to have been 
connected with Xewstead Abbey, one being that of 
* Sir John B^Ton the Little, with the Great Beard,' 
who was wont to promenade the state apartments 
at night. But the most dreaded spectre was the 
' Goblin Friar,' previously alluded to, who — 

Now in the moonlight, and now lapsed in shade, 
With steps that trod as heavy, yet unheard. 

This strange, weird spectre has been thought to 
forebode evil to the member of the famil}^ to whom 
it appears, and its uncanny movements have been 
thus pictured by the poet : 


By the marriage-bed of their lords, 'tis said, 

He flits on the bridal eve ; 
And 'tis held as faith, to their bed of death 

He comes — but not to grieve. 

"When an heir is born, he is heard to mourn. 

And when aught is to befall 
That ancient line, in the pale moonshine 

He walks from hall to hall. 

His form 3'ou may trace, but not his face, 

'Tis shadowed by his cowl ; 
But his eyes may be seen from the folds between. 

And they seem of a parted soul. 

Holland House has had the reputation of being 
haunted by the spirit of the first Lord Holland ; 
and, in 1860, there was published in ' Notes and 
Queries,' by the late Edmund Lenthal Swifte, 
Keeper of the Crown Jewels, the account of a 
spectral illusion witnessed by himself in the Tower. 
He says that in October, 1817, he was at supper 
with his wife, her sister, and his little boy, in the 
sitting-room of the jewel-house. To quote his own 
words : * I had offered a glass of wine and water to 
my wife, when, on putting it to her lips, she ex- 
claimed, " Good God ! what is that ? " I looked up, 
and saw a cylindrical figure Hke a glass tube. 


seemingly about the thickness of my arm, and 
hovering between the ceiling and the table; its 
contents appeared to be a dense fluid, white and 
pale azure. This lasted about two minutes, when 
it began to move before my sister-in-law; then, 
following the oblong side of the table, before my 
son and myself, passing behind my wife, it paused 
for a moment over her right shoulder. Instantly 
crouching down, and with both hands covering her 
shoulder, she shrieked out, " Christ ! it has 
seized me ! " It was ascertained,' adds Mr. Swifte, 
* that no optical action from the outside could have 
produced any manifestation within, and hence the 
mystery has remained unsolved.' Speaking of the 
Tower, we learn from the same source how ^ one 
of the night sentries at the jewel-of&ce was alarmed 
by a figure like a huge bear issuing from under- 
neath the jewel-room door. He thrust at it with 
his bayonet which stuck in the door. He dropped 
in a fit and was carried senseless to the guard- 
room. ... In another day or two the brave and 
steady soldier died at the presence of a shadow.' 
Windsor Castle, as report goes, was haunted by 
the ghost of Sir George Villiers, who appeared to 


an officer in the king's wardrobe and warned him 
of the approaching fate of the Duke of Bucking- 

According to Johnson, the ' Old Hummums ' was 
the scene of the ' best accredited ghost story ' that he 
had ever heard, the spirit of a Mr. Ford, said to 
have been the riofous parson of Hogarth's ' Mid- 
night Conversation,' having appeared to a waiter ; 
and Boswell, alluding to a conversation which took 
place at Mr. Thrale's house, Sti^eatham, between 
himself and Dr. Johnson, thus writes : * A waiter 
at the Hummums, in which house Ford died, had 
been absent for some time, and returned, not know- 
ing that Ford was dead. Going down to the cellar, 
according to the story, he met him ; going down 
again, he met him a second time. When he came 
up he asked some of the people of the house what 
Ford could be doing there. They told him Ford 
was dead. The waiter took a fever, and when he 
recovered he said he had a message from Ford to 
deliver to some women, but he was not to tell what, 
or to whom. He walked out, he was followed, but 

' See Lord Clarendon's History of the Ecbellion, and Notes 
and Queries, July 18G0. 


somewhere about St. Paul's they lost him. He 
came back, and said he had delivered the message, 
and the women exclaimed, " Then we are all un- 
done." ' There is the so-called ' Mystery of Berkeley 
Square,' No. 50 having been reputed to be haunted. 
But a long corres^Dondence on the subject in the 
pages of 'Notes and Queries' proved this to be a 
fallacy, the rumour, it would seem, having arisen 
from * its neglected condition when empty, and the 
habits of the melancholy and solitary hypochondriac 
when occupied by him.' Lord Lyttelton, however, 
wrote in ' Notes and Queries ' of November 16, 
1872, thus : * It is quite true that there is a house 
in Berkeley Square (No. 50) said to be haunted, 
and long unoccupied on that account. There are 
strange stories about it, into which this deponent 
cannot enter.' What these strange stories were 
may be gathered from * Mayfair ' of May 10, 
1879 — an interesting illustration of how rapidly 
legendary stories spring up on little or no basis. 
* The house in Berkeley Square contains at least one 
room of which the atmosphere is supernaturally 
fatal to body and mind. A girl saw, heard, and 
felt such horror iu it that she went mad, and 


never recovered sanity enough to tell how or why. 
A gentleman, a disbeliever in ghosts, dared to sleep 
in it, and was found a corpse in the middle of the 
floor, after practically ringing for help in vain. 
Eumour suggests other cases of the same kind, all 
ending in death, madness, or both, as the result of 
sleeping, or trying to sleep, in that room. The 
very party walls of the house, w^hen touched, are 
found saturated with electric horror. It is unin- 
habited, save by an elderly man and woman who 
act as caretakers ; but even these have no access to 
the room. That is kept locked, the key being in the 
hands of a mysterious and seemingly nameless 
person, who comes to the house once every six 
months, locks up the elderly couple in the base- 
ment, and then unlocks the room and occupies 
himself in it for hours.' 

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devonshire, was long 
said to be haunted by the daughter of a former 
baron, who bore a child to her own father, after- 
wards strangling the fruit of their incestuous inter- 
course ; and all kinds of weird noises are heard at 
Ewshott House, Hampshire. Bagley House, near 
Bridport, is haunted by the ghost of a Squire 


Lighte, who committed suicide ; and at Astwood 
Court, once the seat of the Culpepers, was an old 
oak table, removed from the side of the wainscot in 
1816, respecting which tradition declares that it 
bore the impress of the fingers of a lady ghost who, it 
has been suggested, probably tired of appearing to 
no purpose, at last struck the table in a rage 
and vanished for ever. Holt Castle was supposed, 
in bygone years, to be haunted by a mysterious 
lady in black who, in the still hours of the nigh 
occasionally walked in a certain passage near the 
attics. It was likewise said that the cellar had 
been occupied by an ill-favoured bird like a raven, 
which would sometimes pounce upon any person 
w^ho ventured to approach a cask for drink, and, 
having extinguished the candle with a horrid 
flapping of wings, would leave its victims prostrate 
with fright. A solution, however, has been given 
to this legend that ' would imply a little cunning 
selfishness on the part of the domestics who had 
the care of the ale and cider depot.' ^ 

At Althorp, the seat of Earl Spencer, is said to 
have appeared the ghost of a favourite groom, and 
^ Gentleman''s Magazine, 1855, pt. ii. pp. 58, 59. 


Cumnor Hall, the supposed scene of the murder 
of Lady Ann Kobsart, was haunted by her appari- 
tion. According to Mickle — 

In that Manor now no more 

Is cheerful feast and sprightly ball ; 

For, ever since that dreary hour, 
Have siDh'its haunted Cumnor Hall. 

The village maids, with fearful glance, 
Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall ; 

Nor ever lead the merry dance 

Among the groves of Cumnor Hall. 

Full many a traveller oft hath sighed 
And pensive wept the Countess's fall, 

As, wandering onward, they espied 
The haunted towers of Cumnor HaU. 

Powis Castle had once its ghost, and Cullaby Castle, 
Northumberland, the seat of Major A. H. Browne, 
is haunted. According to a correspondent,^ in the 
older part of the castle, which was the pele-tower 
of the Claverings, there was known to be a room 
walled up, ' which Mrs. Browne, during her husband's 
absence, had broken into ; ' but the room was 
ound to be quite empty. She says, however, that 

> Mou GJwst Stories, p. 64. 


* she let a ghost out who is known as " The Wicked 
Priest." Ever since they have been annoyed with the 
most unaccountable noises, which are sometimes so 
loud that one would think the house was being blown 
down. I believe the ghost has been seen — it is a 
priest with a shovel hat.' The seat of the Trevelyans 
is haunted with the incessant wailing of a spectral 
child, and the ruins of Seaton Delaval Castle are 
said to be haunted. Churton Hall, at one time 
the seat of the Duke of Argyll, 'has marked 
Tyneside with the ghost of the Duke's mistress, 
who is locally known as *' Silky." ' * Tyneside,' 
writes Mr. W. T. Stead, ' abounded with stories of 
haunted castles ; but, with the doubtful exception 
of Dilston, wiiere Lady Derwentwater w^as said to 
revisit the pale glimpses of the moon to expiate the 
restless ambition which impelled her to drive Lord 
Derwentwater to the scaffold, none of them w^ere 
leading actors in the tragedies of old time.' 

Bisham Abbey, report says, is haunted by the 
ghost of Lady Hoby, who treated her son by her 
first husband so unmercifully, on account of his 
antipathy to study, that he died. As a punish- 
ment for her unnatural cruelty she glides through 



a certain chamber, in the act of washing blood- 
stains from her hands. One of the rooms at Com- 
bermere Abbey, Cheshire, formerly known as the 
' Coved Saloon,' is tenanted by the ghost of a little 
girl, the sister of Lord Cotton, who had died when 
fourteen years old.^ Then there was the famous 
* Sampford Peverell ' ghost, which created much 
interest at the commencement of the present 
century,^ and Eainham, the seat of the Marquis 
Townshend, in Norfolk, has long been haunted by 
the ' Brow^n Lady.' At Oulton House, Suffolk, at 
midnight, a wild huntsman with his hounds, 
accompanied by a lady carrying a poisoned cujd, is 
said to take his ghostly walk ; and Clegg Hall, 
Lancashire, long had its restless spirits, and the 
laying of these ' Clegg Hall boggarts,' as they were 
called, is described elsewhere. At Samlesbury 
Hall, near Blackburn, a lady in white attended by 
a handsome knight is seen at night ; ^ and a 
headless lady walked about Walton Abbey. Her- 
mitage Castle, one of the most famous of the 

' All the Year Round, December 24, 1870. 

2 See Ingram's Haunted Homes, 2ncl S. pp. 226-233. 

• Ihid. see p. 222. 


Border keeps in the days of its splendour, has for 
years past been haunted, and has been described 
as — 

Haunted Hermitage, 
Where long by spells mj^sterious bound, 

They pace their round with lifeless smile, 
And shake with restless foot the guilty pile, 
Till sink the mouldering towers beneath the bm'dened 

The story goes that Lord SouHs/ the evil hero of Her- 
mitage,' made a compact with the devil,'who appeared 
to him in the shape of a spirit wearing a red cap, 
which gained its hue from the blood of human 
victims in which it was steeped. Lord Soulis sold 
himself to the demon, and in return he could 
summon his familiar whenever he chose to rap 
thrice on an iron chest, on condition that he never 
looked in the direction of the spirit. Once, how- 
ever, he forgot or ignored this condition, and his 
doom was sealed. But even then Lord Soulis kept 
the letter of the compact. Lord Soulis was pro- 
tected by an unholy charm against any injury from 
rope or steel ; hence cords could not bind him, 
and steel could not slay him. When, at last, he 
was delivered over to his enemies it was found 

Y 2 



necessary to adopt the ingenious and effective ex- 
pedient of rolling him up in a sheet of lead and 
boiling him to death : 

On a circle of stones they placed tlie x^ot, 
On a circle of stones but barely nine ; 

They heated it red and fiery hot, 

And the burnished brass did glimmer and shine. 

They rolled him np in a sheet of lead — 

A sheet of lead for a funeral pall ; 
They plunged him into the cauldron red, 

And melted him, body, lead, bones and all. 

This was the end of Lord SouKs's body, but his 
spirit still lingers on the scene. Once every seven 
years he keeps tryst with Ked Cap on the scene of 
his former devilries : 

And still when seven years are o'er 

Is heard the jarring sound, 
"When hollow opes the charmed door 

Of chamber underground.' 

Hugh Miller, in his ' Schools and Schoolmasters,' 
says that, while working as a stonemason in a 

» More Ghost Stories, W. T. Stead, 1892, p. 63. 


remote part of Scotland, he visited the ruins of 
Craighouse, a grey fantastic rag of a castle, which 
the people of the neighbourhood firmly believed to 
be haunted by its goblin — a miserable-looking, 
grey-headed, grey-bearded old man, who might be 
seen, late in evening and early in the morning, 
peering out through a narrow slit or shot-hole at 
the chance passenger. He further adds that he 
met with a sunburnt herd-boy who was tending his 
cattle under the shadow of the old castle wall. He 
asked the lad whose apparition he thought it was 
that could continue to haunt a building whose last 
inhabitant had long been forgotten. * Oh, they're 
saying,' was the reply, *it's the spirit of the man 
who was killed on the foundation-stone, soon after 
it was laid, and then built intil the wa' by the 
masons that he might keep the Castle by coming 
back again ; and they're saying that a' varra auld 
hooses i' the country had murderit men builded 
intil them i' that way, and that all o' them hev 
their bogie ! ' 

Among Irish haunted houses may be noticed the 
castle of Dunseverick,in Antrim, which is believed to 
be still inhabited by the spirit of a chief, who there 


atones for a horrid crime ; while the castles of 
Dunluce, of Magrath, and many others are similarly 
peopled by the wicked dead. In the abbey of Clare 
the ghost of a sinful abbot walks, and will continue 
to do so until his sin has been atoned for by the 
prayers he unceasingly mutters in his tireless 
march up and down the aisles of the ruined 

The ' Cedar Eoom ' at Ashley Hall, Cheshire, 
was said to be tenanted by the figure of a white 
lady, reminding us of similar so-called apparitions 
at Skipsea and Blenkinsopp Castles. At Burton 
Agnes Hall, the family seat of Sir Henry Somer- 
ville Boynton, there is a spirit of a lady which 
haunts the ancient mansion, known in the neigh- 
bourhood as * Awd Nance.' The skull of this lady 
is preserved at the Hall, and so long as it is left 
quietly in its resting-place all goes well, but should 
any attempt be made to remove it, all kinds of 
unearthly noises are raised in the house, and last 
until it is restored.^ Denton Hall has for many 
years past attracted interest from being inhabited 
by a spirit known by the names of * Old Barbery ' 

* Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, pp. 314, 315. 


and ' Silky,' and Waddow Hall, Yorkshire, is 
haunted by a phantom called *Peg O'NelL' Bridge 
End House, Burnley, was said to have its ghost ; 
Crook Hall, near Durham, has its * White Ladie ; ' 
South Biddick Hall, its shadowy tenant, * Madam 
Lambton ; ' and Netherby Hall, a ' Bustling Lady ' 
who walks along a retired passage in that mansion, 
her dress rustling as she moves along. ^ There 
was the famous Willington Mill, alluded to in the 
previous chapter, which some years ago became 
notorious in the North of England, having been 
haunted, it is said, by a priest and a grey lady 
who amused themselves at their victims' expense 
by all kinds of strange acts.^ A correspondent 
of ' Notes and Queries ' (4th S. x. 490) referring 
to the Willington ghost says : * The steam flour 
mill, with the house, was in the occupation then 
of Messrs. Proctor and Unthank ; the house was 
separated from the mill by a space of a few 
feet, so that no tricks could be played from 
the mill. The partners alternately lived in the 
house. A relation of mine asked one of those 

* Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, pp. 314, 315. 
2 See Ihid. p. 315; Ingram's Haunted Homes, pp. 266-277 ; 
More Ghost Stories, W. T. Stead. 


gentlemen if tjiere was any truth as to the current 
rumours. He remarked, " Well, we don't like 
to speak of it ; my partner certainly cannot live 
comfortably in the house, from some unexplained 
cause, but as to myself and family we are never 
disturbed." ' 

Several parsonages have had their ghosts. 
Southey, in his ' Life of Wesley,' speaking of 
Epworth parsonage, which appears to have been 
haunted in the most strange manner, and alluding 
to the mysterious disturbances that happened in it, 
says : ' An author who, in this age, relates such 
a story, and treats it as not utterly incredible and 
absurd, must expect to be ridiculed, but the testi- 
mony upon which it rests is far too strong to be 
set aside because of the strangeness of the relation.' 
In the ' Gentleman's Magazine ' is recorded an 
account of an apparition that appeared at Soul- 
dern Kectory, Oxfordshire, to the Eev. Mr. Shaw, 
who had always ridiculed the idea of ghosts, 
announcing to him that his death would be very 
soon, and very sudden. Suffice it to say that 
shortly afterwards he was seized with an apoplectic 
fit while reading the service in church, and died 


almost immediately. This strange affair is noticed 
in the register of Brisly Church, Norfolk, under 
December 12, 1706: a, Kobert Withers, M.A., 
Vicar of Gately, do insert here a story which I 
had from undoubted hands, for I have all the 
moral certainty of the truth of it possible.' 

The old parsonage at Market, or East, Lavington, 
near Devizes — now pulled down — was reputed to be 
haunted by a lady supposed to have been murdered, 
and, it has been said, a child came also to an 
untimely end in the house. Previous to 1818, a 
correspondent of * Notes and Queries ' (5 S. i. 273) 
says : * A witness states his father occupied the 
house, and writes " that in that year on Feast 
Day, being left alone in the house, I went up to my 
room. It was the one with marks of blood on the 
floor. I distinctly saw a white figure glide into 
the room. It went round by the washstand by 
the bed, and there disappeared." ' It may be 
added that part of the road leading from Market 
Lavington to Easterton, which skirts the grounds 
of Fiddington House, used to be looked upon as 
haunted by a lady, who was known as the 
* Easterton Ghost.' In 1869, a wall was built 


round the road- side of the pond ; and, close to the 
spot where the lady was seen, two skeletons were 
disturbed — one of a w^oman, the other of a child. 
The bones were buried in the churchyard, and 
no ghost, it is said, has been seen since. 

Occasionally, churches have been haunted. 
The famous phantom nun of Holy Trinity Church, 
Micklegate, York, has excited a good deal of inte- 
rest — an account of which is given by Mr. Baring- 
Gould in his ' Yorkshire Oddities.' The story 
goes that • during the suppression of religious 
houses before the Eeformation, a party of soldiers 
came to sack the convent attached to the church. 
But having forced an entry they were confronted 
by the abbess, a lady of great courage and 
devotion, who declared that they should only pass 
it over her body, and that should they slay her 
and succeed in their errand of destruction, her 
spirit would haunt the place until the time came 
that their sacrilegious work w^as expiated by the 
rebuilding of the holy house. Many accounts 
have been published of this apparition, the fol- 
lowing being from the * Kipon and Eichmond 
Chronicle ' (May 6, 1876) : ' In the middle of the 


service,' writes a correspondent, ' my eyes, which 
had hardly once moved from the left or north 
side of the [east] window, were attracted by a 
bright light, formed like a female, robed and 
hooded, passing from north to south with a rapid 
gliding motion outside the church, apparently at 
some distance. There are four divisions in the 
window, all of stained glass, but at the edge of 
each runs a rim of plain transparent glass, about 
two inches wide, and adjoining the stone-work. 
Through this rim especially could be seen what 
looked like a form transparent, but yet thick (if 
such a term can be used) with light. The robe 
was long and trailed. About half an hour later it 
again passed from north to south, and, having 
remained about ten seconds only, returned with 
what I believe to have been the figure of a young 
child, and stopped at the last pane but one, and 
then vanished. I did not see the child again, 
but a few seconds afterwards the woman re- 
appeared, and completed the passage behind the 
last pane very rapidly.' It is said to appear 
very frequently on Trinity Sunday, and to bring 
two other figures on to the scene, another female, 


called the nurse, and the child. Likewise, on one 
of the windows of the Abbey Church, Whitby, was 
occasionally seen — 

The very form of Hilda fair, 
HoYcring upon the sunny air. 

According to a correspondent of the ' Gentle- 
man's Magazine,' a ghost appeared for several 
years, but very seldom, only in the church porch 
at Kilncote, Leicestershire. Folk-lore tells us that 
ghosts are occasionally seen in the church porch, 
and, in years gone, it w^as customary for young 
people to sit and watch here on St. Mark's 
Eve, from 11 at night till 1 o'clock in the 
morning. In the third year, for the ceremony 
had to be gone through three times, it was sup- 
posed the ghosts of all those about to die in the 
course of the ensuing year w^ould pass into the 
church. It is to this piece of superstition that 
James Montgomery refers in his 'Vigil of St. 
Mark ' : 

' 'Tis now,' replied the village belle, 

' St. Mark's mysterious Eve ; 
And all that old traditions tell 

I tremblingly believe. 


* How, when the midnight signal tolls, 

Along the churchyard green 
A mournful train of sentenced souls 

In winding sheets are seen. 

' The ghosts of all whom death shall doom 

Within the coming year, 
In pale procession walk the gloom. 

Amid the silence drear.' 

A strange illustration of this superstition is 
found among the Hollis manuscripts in the Lans- 
downe collection. The writer, Gervase Hollis, of 
Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire, was a colonel in the 
service of Charles I., and he professes to have 
received the tale from Mr. Liveman Eampaine, 
minister of God's word at Great Grimsby, Lincoln- 
shire, who was household chaplain to Sir Thomas 
Munson of Burton, in Lincoln, at the time of the 

A curious and somewhat unique advertisement 
of a haunted house appeared some years ago, 
and ran thus : * To be sold, an ancient Gothic 
mansion, known as Beckington Castle, ten miles 
from Bath, and two from Frome. The mansion 

* Quoted in Book of Days, i. p. 549. 


has been closed for some years, having been the 
subject of proceedings in Chancery. There are 
legends of haunted rooms, miles of subterranean 
passages, &c., affording a fine field of research and 
speculation to lovers of the romantic' It was no 
doubt true of the ghost of this, as of most other 
haunted houses — 

We meet them on the door-wa^', on the stair, 
Along the passages they come and go, 

Impalpable impressions on the air, 
A sense of something moving to and fro. 




Spirits in most countries are supposed to haunt 
all kinds of places, and not to confine themselves 
to any one locality. Local traditions show how 
the most unlikely spots, which can boast of little 
or no romance, are supposed to be frequented by 
ghosts ; the wayfarer along some country road 
having oftentimes been confronted by an uncanny 

Indeed, the superstitious fear of places being 
haunted by ghosts not only led to the abandonment 
but even destruction of many a dwelling-place, a 
practice which, amongst uncultured tribes, not 
only * served as a check to material prosperity, but 
became an obstacle to progress.' ^ But even in 
civilised countries the same antipathy to a haunted 
house is often found, and the ghostly tenant is 
allowed uninterrupted possession owing to the 

' Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, p. 22. 


dread his presence inspires. The Hottentots de- 
serted the house after a decease, and the Seminoles 
at once removed from the dwelling where death 
had occurred, and from the neighbourhood ^Yhere 
the body was buried. Among the South Slavonians 
and Bohemians, the bereaved family, returning 
from the grave, pelted the ghost of their deceased 
relative with sticks, stones, and hot coals. And the 
Tschuwasche, a tribe in Finland, opened fire on it 
as soon as the cofQn was outside the house. In 
Old Calabar, it was usual for a son to leave his 
father's house for two years, after which time it 
was considered safe to return. If a Kaffir or 
Maori died before he could be carried out, the 
house was tabooed and deserted.- The Ojibways 
pulled down the house in which anyone had died, 
and chose another one to live in as far off as possible. 
Even with the death of an infant the same fear 
was manifested. One day, when a friend visited a 
neighbour whose child was sick, he was not a Httle 
surprised to find, on his return in the evening, that 
the house had disappeared and all its inhabi- 
tants gone. Among the Abipones of Paraguay, 

' See Tylor's Primitive Culture, ii. p. 26. 
2 Contemporary Beview, xlviii. p. 108. 


when anyone's life is despaired of, the house is 
immediately forsaken by his fellow inmates, and 
tlie New England tribes would never live in a 
wigwam in which any person had died, but would 
immediately pull it down. 

If a deceased Creek Indian ' has been a man of 
eminent character, the family immediately remove 
from the house in which he is buried, and erect a 
new one, with a belief that where the bones of their 
dead are deposited, the place is always attended 
by goblins.' ^ The Kamtchadales frequently remove 
from their dwelling when anyone has died, and 
among the Lepchas the house where there has been 
a death ' is almost always forsaken by the surviving 
inmates.' ^ Occasionally, it would seem, the desertion 
is more complete. After a death, for instance, the 
Boobies of Fernando Po forsake the village in 
which it occurred, and of the Bechuanas we read 
that * on the death of Mallahawan . . . the town 
[Lattakoo] was removed, according to the custom 
of the country.' ^ 

^ Schoolcraft's Indian Tribes, v. p. 270. 

2 See Herbert Spencer's Praicy^'^cs of Sociology, 1885, i, p. 199. 

' Ibid. p. 199. 


Ghosts are supposed to find pleasure in re- 
visiting the places where they have experienced 
joy, or sorrow and pain, and to wander round the 
spot where they died, and hence all kinds of pre- 
cautions have been adopted to prevent their 
returning. In Europe, sometimes, ' steps were taken 
to barricade the house against him. Thus, in some 
parts of Eussia and East Prussia, an axe or a lock 
is laid on the threshold, or a knife is hung over the 
door, and in Germany as soon as the coffin is 
carried out of the house all the doors and windows 
are shut.' ^ And conversely, it is a common custom 
in many parts of England to unfasten every bolt 
and lock in the house that the spirit of the dying 
man may freely escape. 

But, as Mr. Frazer shows in his interesting 
paper on the ' Primitive Ghost,' our ancestors 
knew how to outwit the ghost in its endeavour to 
find its way back to the house it left at death. 
Thus the practice of closing the eyes of the dead, 
he suggests, originated in ' blindfolding the dead that 
he might not see the way by which he was carried 
to his last home. At the grave, where he was to rest 
for ever, there was no motive for concealment; 

' The Contemporary Review, xlviii. p. 109. 


hence the Eomans, and apparently the Siamese, 
opened the eyes of the dead man at the funeral 
pyre. And the idea that if the eyes of the dead be 
not closed, his ghost will retm'n to fetch away 
another of the household, still exists in Germany, 
Bohemia, and England.' With the same object the 
cofQn was carried out of the house by a hole 
purposely made in the wall, which was stopped up 
as soon as the body had passed through, so that, 
when the ghost strolled back from the grave, he 
found there was no thoroughfare — a device shared 
equally by Greenland ers, Hottentots, Bechuanas, 
SamoiedSjOjibways, Algonquins, Laosians, Hindoos, 
Tibetans, Siamese, Chinese, and Fijians. These 
' doors of the dead ' are still to be seen in a village 
near Amsterdam, and they were common in some 
towns of Central Italy. A trace of the same 
custom survives in Thiiringen, where there is a 
belief that the ghost of a man who has been hanged 
will return to the house if not taken out by a 
window mstead of a door. Similarly, for the pur- 
pose of misleading the dead, the Bohemians put on 
masks, that the dead might not know and therefore 
might not follow them, and it is a matter of con- 


jecture ^vhether mourning customs may not have 
sprung from ' the deshe to disguise and therefore 
to protect the Hving from the dead.' 

Among further methods in use for frustrating the 
return of the dead, may be noticed the objection to 
utter the names of deceased persons — a superstition 
which Mr. Frazer shows has modified whole 
languages. Thus, ' among the AustraHans, Tas- 
manians, and Abipones, if the name of a deceased 
person happened to be a common name, e.g. the 
name of an animal or plant, this name was 
abolished, and a new one substituted for it. During 
the residence of the Jesuit Missionary Dobritz- 
hoffer amongst the Abipones, the name for tiger 
was thus changed three times. Amongst the 
Indians of Columbia, near relatives of a deceased 
person often change their names, under the im- 
pression that the ghost will return if he hears the 
familiar names.' ^ 

The Sandwich Islanders say the spirit of the 
departed hovers about the place of its former 
resort, and in the country north of the Zambesi 
' all beheve that the souls of the departed still 

' The Contemporary Review, xlviii. p. 111. 


mingle among the living, and partake in some way 
of the food they consume.' In the Aleutian 
Islands, it is said that * the invisible souls or shades 
of the departed wander about among their children.' 
But one of the most favourite haunts of de- 
parted spirits is said to be burial-grounds, and espe- 
cially their own graves, reminding us of Puck's words 
in * A Midsummer Night's Dream ' (Act v. sc. 2) : 

Now it is the time of night, 

That the graves all gaping wide, 
Everyone lets forth his sprite, 

In the chiirch-way paths to glide. 

*The belief in ghosts,' writes Thorpe,^ 'was 
deeply impressed on the minds of the heathen 
Northmen, a belief closely connected with their 
ideas of the state after death. The soul, they 
believed, returned to the place whence it sprang, 
while the body, and the grosser life bound to it, 
passed to the abode of Hel or Death. Herewith 
was naturally combined the belief that the soul of 
the departed might, from its heavenly home, re- 
visit the earth, there at night-time to unite itself 
in the grave-mound with the corporeal shadow 

* Northern Mythology, ii. p. 20. 


released from Hel. Thus the dead could show 
themselves in the open grave-mounds in the same 
form which they had in life.' 

Indeed, it has been the current opinion for 
centuries that places of burial are haunted with 
spectres and apparitions. Ovid speaks of ghosts 
coming out of their sepulchres and wandering about, 
and Virgil,^ too, quoting the popular opinion of his 
day, tells us how ' Mceris could call the ghosts out 
of their tombs.' In short, the idea of the ghost re- 
maining near the corpse is of world-w'ide preva- 
lence, and, as Dr. Tylor remarks,^ ' through all the 
changes of religious thought from first to last in 
the course of human history, the hovering ghosts 
of the dead make the midnight burial-ground a 
place where man's flesh creeps with terror.' We 
may further compare Hamlet's words (Act iii. 
sc. 2) : 

'Tis now the very witching time of night, 

■\^^ien church-yards yawn. 

And Puck also tells how, at the approach of 
Aurora, ' ghosts, wandering here and there, troop 
home to churchyards.' Tracmg this superstition 

' Bucolics, viii. p. 98. ^ Primitive Culture, ii. p. 30. 


amongst uncultured tribes, we find the soul of the 
North American hovering about its burial-place, 
and among the Costa Eicans the spirits of the dead 
are believed to remain near their bodies for a year. 
The Dayak's burial-place is frequented by ghosts, 
and the explorer S^Yan tells us that when he 
was with the North-Western Indians, he was not 
allowed to attend a funeral for fear of his offend- 
ing the spirits hovering about. From the same 
authority we learn how at Stony Point, on the 
north-west coast of America, a burial-place of the 
Indians was considered to be. haunted by spirits, 
and on this account no Indian ever ventured there.^ 
This dread of burial-grounds still retains a per- 
sistent hold, and is one of those survivals of 
primitive belief which has given rise to a host of 
strange superstitious practices. 

Keppel, in his * Visit to the Indian Archipelago,' 
says that in Northern Australia the natives will not 
willingly approach graves at night, alone, ' but when 
they are obliged to pass them, they carry a fire- 
stick to keep off the spirit of darkness.' 

There is still a belief that the ghost of the last 

* See Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, p. 21. 


person watches round the churchyard till another 
is buried„to whom he dehvers his charge. Crofton 
Croker says that in Ireland it is the general opinion 
among the lower orders that ' the last buried corpse 
has to perform an office like that of *' fag " in our 
public schools by the junior boy, and that the attend- 
ance on his churchyard companions is duly relieved 
by the interment of some other person.' Serious 
disturbances have resulted from this superstition, 
and terrific fights have at times taken place to decide 
which corpse should be buried first. The ancient 
churchyard of Truagh, county Monaghan, is said 
to be haunted by an evil spirit, whose appearance 
generally forebodes death. The legend runs, writes 
Lady Wilde, ^ ' that at funerals the spirit watches 
for the person who remains last in the graveyard. 
If it be a young man who is there alone, the spirit 
takes the form of a beautiful young girl, inspires 
him with an ardent passion, and exacts from him 
a promise that he will meet her that day month in 
the churchyard. The promise is then sealed by a 
kiss, which sends a fatal fire through his veins, so 
that he is unable to resist her caresses, and makes 

^ Aitclcjit Cxires, Charms, and Usag&s of Ireland, p. 84. 


the promise required. Then she disappears, and 
the young man proceeds homewards ; but no sooner 
has he passed the boundary ^Yall of the churchyard 
than the whole story of the evil rushes on his mind, 
and he knows that he has sold himself, soul and 
body, for a demon's kiss. Then terror and dismay 
take hold of him, till despair becomes insanity, and 
on the very day month fixed for the meeting with 
the demon bride, the victim dies the death of a 
raving lunatic, and is laid in the fatal graveyard 
of Truagh.' 

The dead, too, particularly object to persons 
treading carelessly on their graves, an allusion to 
which occurs in one of the songs of Greek out- 
lawry : ^ 

All Saturday we held carouse, and far through Sunday night, 
And on the Monday morn we found our wine expended 

To seek for more, without delay, the ca^^tain made me go ; 
I ne'er had seen nor known the way, nor had a guide to 

And so tlirough solitary roads and secret paths I sped, 
"Which to a little ivied church long time deserted led. 
This church was full of tombs, and all by gallant men 

possest ; 
One sepulchre stood all alone, apart from all the rest. 
^ Essay in the Study of Folk-songs^ pp. 14, 15. 


I did not see it, and I trod above the dead man's bones, 
And as from out the netherworld came up a sound of groans. 

• What ails thee, sepulchre ? Why thus so deeply groan and 

sigh ? 
Doth the earth press, or the black stone weigh on thee 
heavily ? ' 

♦ Neither the earth doth press me down, nor black stone do 

me scath, 
But I with bitter grief am wrung, and full of shame and 

That thou dost trample on my head, and I am scorned in 

Perhaps I was not also young, nor brave and stout in fight. 
Nor wont, as thou, beneath the moon, to wander through 

the night.' 

According to the Guiana Indians, ' every place 
is haunted where any have died ; ' and in Madagas- 
car the ghosts of ancestors are said to hover about 
their tombs. The East Africans ' appear to imagine 
the souls to be always near the place of sepulture,' 
and on the Gold Coast ' the spirit is supposed to re- 
main near the spot where the body has been buried.' 
The souls of warriors slain on the field of battle are 
considered by the Mangaians to wander for a while 
amongst the rocks and trees of the neighbourhood 
in which their bodies were thrown. At length ' the 
first slain on each battlefield would collect his 


brothers' ghosts, and lead them to the summit of a 
mountam, whence they leap into the blue expanse, 
thus becoming the peculiar clouds of the winter.' ^ 
And the Mayas of Yucatan think the souls of the 
dead return to the earth if they choose, and, in 
order that they may not lose the way to the 
domestic hearth, they mark the path from the hut 
to the tomb with chalk.^ 

The primitive doctrine of souls obliges the 
savage, says Mr. Dorman,^ ' to think of the spirit of 
the dead as close at hand. Most uncultured tribes, 
on this account, regard the spot where death has 
taken place as haunted. A superstitious fear soon 
instigates worship, and this worship, beginning at 
the tombs and burial-places, develops into the 
temple ritual of higher culture.' 

The Iroquois believe the space between the 
earth and sky is full of spirits, usually invisible, , 
but occasionally seen, and the Ojibways affirm 
that innumerable spirits are ever near, and dwell I 
in all kinds of places. European folk-lore has 
similar beliefs, it having been a Scandinavian idea 

' Gill : Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, pp. 162, 163. 
' See Dorman's Frimitive Superstitions, p. 33. ' Ibid. p. 30. 


that the souls of the departed dwell in the mterior of 
mountains, a phase of superstition which frequently 
presents itself in the Icelandic sagas, and exists 
in Germany at the present day. ' Of some German 
mountains,' writes Thorpe, ' it is believed that they 
are the abodes of the damned. One of these is the 
Horselberg, near Eisenach, which is the habitation 
of Frau Holle ; another is the fabulous Venusberg, 
in which the Tannhauser sojourns, and before which 
the trusty Eckhart sits as a warning guardian.' ^ 

Departed souls were also supposed to dwell in 
the bottom of w^ells and ponds, with w4iich may be 
compared the many tales current throughout Ger- 
many and elsewhere of towns and castles that have 
been sunk in the water, and are at times visible. 
But, as few subjects have afforded greater scope for 
the imagination than the hereafter of the human 
soul, numerous myths and legendary stories have 
been invented to account for its mysterious de- 
parture in the hour of death. Shakespeare has 
alluded to the numerous destinations of the dis- 
embodied spirit, enumerating the many ideas pre- 
valent, in his day, on the subject. In 'Measure 
' Northern Mythology , i. p. 28G. 


for Measure' (Act iii. sc. 1) Claudio pathetically 


Ay, but to die, and go we know not where ; 
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot ; 
This sensible warm motion to become 
A kneaded clod, and the delighted spirit 
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside 
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice ; 
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds. 
And blown with restless violence roiuid about 
The pendent world. ^ 

Indeed, it would be a long task to enter into the 
mass of mystic details respecting ' the soul's dread 
journey by caverns and rocky paths and weary 
plains, over steep and slippery mountains, by frail 
bank or giddy bridge, across gulfs or rushing 
rivers,' to its destined home. 

According to the Mazovians the soul remains 
with the coffin, sitting upon the upper part of it 
until the burial is over, wlien it flies away. Such 
traditions, writes Mr. Ealston,^ * vary in different 
localities, but everywhere, among all the Slavonic 
people, there seems always to have prevailed an 
idea that death does not finally sever the ties 

' Cf. OthcUo, Act V. sc. 2. 

' So7jgs of the Etissicm People, pp. 115, 116. 


between the living and the dead. This idea has 
taken various forms, and settled into several widely 
differing superstitions, lurking in the secrecy of the 
cottage, and there keeping alive the cultus of the 
domestic spirit, and showing itself openly in the 
village church, where on a certain day it calls for a 
service in remembrance of the dead. The spirits 
of those who are thus remembered, say the 
peasants, attend the service, taking their place 
behind the altar. But those who are left unre- 
membered weep bitterly all through the day.' 

In some parts of Ireland, writes Mr. McAnally, 
* there exists a belief that the spirits of the dead 
are not taken from earth, nor do they lose all their 
former interest in earthly affairs, but enjoy the 
happiness of the saved, or suffer the punishment 
imposed for their sins in the neighbourhood of the 
scenes among which they lived while clothed in 
flesh and blood. At particular crises in the affairs 
of mortals these disenthralled spirits sometimes 
display joy and grief in such a manner as to 
attract the attention of living men and women. 
At weddings they are frequently unseen guests ; at 
funerals they are always present ; and sometimes, at 


both weddings and funerals, their presence is 
recognised by aerial voices, or mysterious music, 
known to be of unearthly origin. The spirits of 
the good wander with the living as guardian angels ; 
but the spirits of the bad are restrained in their 
action, and compelledio do penance at, or near, the 
place where their crimes were committed. Some 
are chained at the bottom of lakes, others buried 
underground, others confined in mountain gorges, 
some hang on the sides of precipices, others are trans- 
fixed on the tree-tops, while others haunt the homes 
of their ancestors, all waiting till the penance has 
been endured and the hour of deliverance arrives.' 
Harriet Martineau, speaking of the English 
lakes, says that Souter or Soutra Fell is the moun- 
tain on which ghosts appeared in myriads at 
intervals during ten years of the last century. 
* On the Midsummer Eve of the fearful 1745, 
twenty-six persons, expressly summoned by the 
family, saw all that had been seen before, and 
more. Carriages were now interspersed with 
the troops.; and everybody knew that no carriages 
had been, or could be, on the summit of 
Souter Fell. The multitude was beyond imagina- 


tion ; for the troops filled a space of half a mile, 
and marched quickly till night hid them, still 
marching. There was nothing vaporous or indis- 
tinct about the appearance of these spectres. So 
1 juh .YT* i**' I'eal tlid they seem, that some of the people went 
up the next morning to look for the hoof-marks of 
the horses ; and awful it was to them to find not 
one footprint on heather or grass.' This spectral 
march was similar to that seen at Edge Hill, in 
Leicestershire, in 1707, and corresponds with the 
tradition of the tramp of armies over Helvellyn, 
on the eve of the battle of Marston Moor. 

With such i)hantoms may be compared the 
mock suns, the various appearances of halos and 
wandering lights, and such a phenomenon as the 
* Spectre of the Brocken.' Calmet relates a singu- 
lar instance at Milan, where some two thousand 
persons saw, as they sujoposed, an angel hovering 
in the air : he cites Cardan as an eye-witness, who 
says that the populace were only undeceived when 
it was shown, by a sharp-sighted lawyer, to be a 
reflection from one of the statues of a neighbouring 
church, the image of which was caught on the 
surface of a cloud. The mirage, or water of the 


desert, owes its appearance to similar laws of 
refraction. Mountain districts, we know, abound 
in these illusions, and ' the splendid enchantment 
presented in the Straits of Eeggio by the Fata 
Morgana ' has attracted much notice. At such 
times, * minarets, temples, and palaces, have seemed 
to rise out of the distant waves ; ' and spectral hunts- 
men, soldiers in battle array, and gay but mute 
cavalcades, have appeared under similar circum- 
stances, pictured on the table of the clouds. It 
was thus, we are told, that the Duke of Brunswick 
and Mrs. Graham saw the image of their balloon 
distinctly exhibited on the face of a cumulous 
cloud, in 1836 ; and travellers on Mont Blanc have 
been startled by their own magnified shadows, 
floating among the giant peaks.^ It is difiQcult to 
say how many of the apparitions which have been 
supposed to haunt certain spots might be attributed 
to similar causes. 

' Occult Sciences, 1855 ; Apparitions, pp. 80, 81. 

A A 




Amongst the qualities ascribed to the cock was the 
time-honoured belief that by its crow it dispelled 
all kinds of ghostly beings — a notion alluded to by 
the poet Prudentius, who flourished at the com- 
mencement of the fourth century. There is, also, 
a hymn said to have been composed by St. Ambrose, 
and formerly used in the Salisbury Missal, in which 
allusion is made to this superstition. In Blair's 
* Grave ' the apparition vanishes at the crowing of 
the cock, and in ' Hamlet,' on the departure of the 
ghost, Bernardo says : 

It was about to speak when the cock crew ; 

to which Horatio answers : 

And then it started like a guilty thing 
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard 
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, 


Doth with his lofty and shrill- sounding throat 
Awake the god of day ; and, at his warning, 
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, 
The extravagant and erring spirit hies 
To his confine : and of the truth herein 
This present object made probation. 

Whereupon Marcellus adds the well-known lines : 

It faded on the crowing of the cock. 
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes, 
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated. 
The bu:d of dawning singeth all night long ; 
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad ; 
The nights are wholesome ; then no planets strike, 
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, 
So hallow'd and so gi'acious is the time. 

Even the devil is powerless at the sound of cock- 
crow. An amusing story is told on the Continent 
of how a farmer's wife tricked the devil by means 
of this spell. It appears that her husband was 
mourning the loss of his barn — either by wind or 
fire — when a stranger addressed him, and said : 
' That I can easily remedy. If you will just write 
your name in your blood on this parchment, your 
barn shall be fixed and ready to-morrow before the 
cock crows ; if not, our contract is void.' But 
afterwards the farmer repented of the bargain he 

A A 2 


had made, and, on consulting his wife, she ran out 
in the middle of the night, and found a number of 
workmen employed on the barn. Thereupon she 
cried with all her might, * Cock-a-doodle-doo ! 
cock-a-doodle-doo ! ' and was followed by all the 
cocks in the neighbourhood, each of which sent 
forth a hearty ' Cock-a-doodle-doo ! ' At the same 
moment all the phantom workmen disappeared, and 
the barn remained unfinished. In a pretty 
Swedish ballad of ' Little Christina,' a lover rises 
from the grave to console his beloved. One night 
Christina hears light fingers tapping at the door ; 
she opens it and sees her betrothed. She washes 
his feet with pure wine, and for a long while they 
converse. Then the cocks begin to crow, and the 
dead get them underground. The young girl 
follows her sweetheart through the white forest, 
and when they reach the graveyard, the fair hair 
of the young man begins to disappear. * See, 
maiden,' he says, ' how the moon has reddened all 
at once ; even so, in a moment, thy beloved will 
vanish.' She sits down on the tomb, and says, * I 
shall remain here till the Lord calls me.' Then 
she hears the voice of her betrothed, 'Little 


Christina, go back to thy dwelling-place. Every 
time a tear falls from thine eyes my shroud is full 
of blood. Every time thy heart is gay, my 
shroud is full of rose-leaves.' These folk- tales are 
interesting, as embodying the superstitions of the 
people among whom they are current. 

A similar idea prevails in India, where the cock 
is with the Hindoos, as with the English peasant, 
a most potent instrument in the subjugation of 
troublesome spirits. A paragraph in the ' Carnatic 
Times ' tells us how a Hindoo exorcist tied his 
patient's hair in a knot, and then with a nail 
attached it to a tree. Muttering some * incantatory ' 
lines, he seized a live cock, and holding it over the 
girl's head with one hand, he, with the other, cut 
its throat. The blood-stained knot of hair was 
left attached to the tree, which was sujDposed to 
detain the demon. It is further su^Dposed that 
' one or a legion thus exorcised will haunt that tree 
till he or they shall choose to take possession of 
some other unfortunate.' 

It was said that chastity was of itself a safe- 
guard against the malignant power of bad ghosts ; 
a notion to which Milton has referred : 


Some say no evil thing that walks by night, 
In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen. 
Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost, 
That breaks the magic chains at curfew-time, 
No goblin, or swart faery of the mine. 
Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity. 

The cross and holy water have, too, generally been 
considered sacred preservatives against devils and 
spirits, illustrations of which will be found in many 
of our old romances.^ 

Fire, like water,^ has been employed for the 
purpose of excluding or barring the ghost, and 
Mr. Frazer writes how ' the Siberians seek to get 
rid of the ghost of the departed by leaping over a 
fire. At Eome, mourners returning from a funeral 
stepped over fire,' a practice which still exists in 
China. A survival of this custom prevails among 
the south Slavonians, who, on their return from a 
funeral, are met by an old woman carrying a vessel 
of live coals. On these they pour water, or else 
they take a live coal from the hearth and fling it 
over their heads. The Brahmans simply touched 
fire, while in Euthenia ' the mourners merely look 

' See E. Yardley's Supernatural in Fiction, pp. 29-31. 
- See Chapter on ' Ghost Laying.' 


steadfastly at the stove or place their hands on 
it.' ^ It is noteworthy that in the Highlands of 
Scotland and in Burma, the house-fires were 
always extinguished when a death happened ; for 
fear, no doubt, of the ghost being accidentally 

The Eskimos drive away spirits by blowing 
their breath at them,^ and the Mayas of Yucatan 
had evil spirits which could be driven away by the 
sorcerers ; but they never came near when their 
fetiches were exposed. They had a ceremony for 
expelling evil spirits from houses about to be 
occupied by newly married persons.^ The natives 
of Brazil so much dread the ghosts of the dead 
that it is recorded how some of them have been 
struck with sudden death because of an imaginary 
apparition of them. They try to aj^pease them 
by fastening offerings on stakes fixed in the ground 
for that purpose. "^ 

Mutilations of the dead were supposed to keep 
his ghost harmless, and on this account Greek 

• Contejnporary Review, xlviii. p. 112 ; Ealston's Songs of the 
Bussian People, p. 319. 

^ Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, p. 20. 
3 Ihid. p. 29. " Ihid. p. 21. 


murderers hacked off the extremities of their 
victims. Australians cut off the right thumb of a 
slain enemy that his ghost might not be able to 
draw the bow. And in Arabia, Germany, and 
Spain, as the ghosts of murderers and their vic- 
tims are- especially restless, everyone who passes 
their graves is bound to add a stone to the pile.^ 

In Pekin, six or seven feet away from the front 
of the doors, small brick walls are built up. These 
are to keep the spirits out, which fly only in 
straight lines, and therefore find a baulk in their 
way. Another mode of keeping spirits away in 
the case of children is to attire them as priests, 
and also to dress the boys as girls, who are sup- 
posed to be the less susceptible to the evil influence. 
In fact, most countries have their contrivances for 
counteracting, in one way or another, the influence 
of departed sjDirits — a piece of superstition of 
which European folk-lore affords abundant illustra- 

Thus, in Norway, bullets, gunpowder, and 
weapons have no influence on ghosts, but at the 
sight of a cross, and from exorcisms, they must 

* ' The Primitive Ghost,' Cojitcmporary Review, xlviii. p. 107. 


retire. The same belief prevails in Denmark, 
where all kinds of checks to ghostly influence 
are resorted to. It is said, for instance, to be 
dangerous to shoot at a spectre, as the bullet 
will return on him who shot it. But if the piece 
be loaded with a silver button, that will infallibly 
take effect. A Danish tradition tells how once 
there was a horrible spectre which caused great 
fear and disquietude, as everyone who saw it 
died immediately afterwards. In this predica- 
ment, a young fellow offered to encounter the 
apparition, and to endeavour to drive it away. 
For this purpose he went at midnight to the church 
path, through which the spectre was in the habit 
of passing, having previously provided himsel 
with steel in various shapes. "When the apparition 
approached, he fearlessly threw steel before its 
feet, so that it was obliged instantly to turn back, 
and it appeared no more.^ A common superstition, 
equally popular in England as on the Continent, 
is that when a horseshoe is nailed over the 
doorway no spirit can enter. It is also said 
that * if anyone is afraid of spectres, let him strew 

^ Thorpe's Northern Mythology, ii. p. 205. 


flax seed before the door ; then no spirit can cross 
the threshold. A preventive equally efficacious is 
to place one's slippers by the bedside with the heels 
towards the bed. Spectres may be driven away by 
smoking the room with the snuff of a tallow 
candle ; while wax-lights attract them.' And at 
the present day various devices are adopted by 
our English peasantry for warding off from their 
dwellings ghosts, and other uncanny intruders.^ 

* See Harland and Wilkinson's Lancashire Folk-lore, 1867, 
p. 63. 




Closely allied to * second sight ' is the doctrine 
of * wraiths ' or ' fetches,' sometimes designated 
* doubles ' — an apparition exactly like a living 
person, its appearance, whether to that person or 
to another, being considered an omen of death. 
The ' Fetch ' is a well-known superstition in 
Ireland, and is supposed to be a mere shadow, 
'resembling in stature, features, and dress, a 
living person, and often mysteriously or suddenly 
seen by a very particular friend. Spiritlike, it 
flits before the sight, seeming to walk leisurely 
through the fields, often disappearing through a 
gap or lane. The person it resembles is usually 
known at the time to be labouring under some 
mortal illness, and unable to leave his or her bed. 
"When the * fetch ' appears agitated, or eccentric in 


its motions, a violent or painful death is indicated 
for the doomed prototype. Such a phantom, too, 
is said to make its appearance at the same time, 
and in the same place, to more than one person.^ 
Should it be seen in the morning, a happy 
longevity for the original is confidently expected ; 
but if it be seen in the evening, immediate dis- 
solution of the living prototype is anticipated. It 
is thought, too, that individuals may behold their 
own * fetches.' Queen Elizabeth is said to have 
been warned of her death by the apparition of her 
own double, and Miss Strickland thus describes 
her last illness : * As her mortal illness drew 
towards a close, the superstitious fears of her 
simple ladies were excited almost to mania, even 
to conjuring up a spectral apparition of the Queen 
while she was yet alive. Lady Guilford, who was 
then in waiting on the Queen, leaving her in an 
almost breathless sleep in her privy chamber, went 
out to take a little air, and met her Majesty, as 
she thought, three or four chambers off. Alarmed 
at the thought of being discovered in the act 
of leaving the royal patient alone, she hurried 
' Gentleman's Magazine, I860, pt. ii. p. 564. 


forward in some trepidation in order to excuse 
herself, when the apparition vanished away. She 
returned terrified to the chamber, but there lay 
the Queen in the same lethargic slumber in which 
she left her.' 

Shelley, shortly before his death, believed he 
had seen his wraith. * On June 23,' says one of 
his biographers, ' he was heard screaming at mid- 
night in the saloon. The Williamses ran in and 
found him staring on vacancy. He had had a 
vision of a cloaked figure which came to his bedside 
and beckoned him to follow. He did so, and when 
they had reached the sitting-room, the figure lifted 
the hood of his cloak and disclosed Shelley's own 
features, and saying '* Siete soddisfatto ? " vanished. 
This vision is accounted for on the ground that 
Shelley had been reading a drama attributed to 
Calderon, named ' El Embozado, 6 el Encapotado,' 
in which a mysterious personage who had been 
haunting and thwarting the hero all his life, and 
is at last about to give him satisfaction in a duel, 
unmasks and proves to be the hero's own wraith. 
He also asks, *'Art thou satisfied?" and the 
haunted man dies of horror.' Sir Eobert Napier 


is supposed to have seen his double, and Aubrey 
quaintly relates how * the beautiful Lady Diana 
Eich, daughter to the Earl of Holland, as she was 
walking in her father's garden at Kensington 
to take the air before dinner, about 11 o'clock, being 
then very well, met her own apparition, habit and 
everything, as in a looking-glass. About a month 
after, she died of small-pox. And it is said that 
her sister, the Lady Isabella Thynne, saw the like 
of herself also before she died. This account I 
had from a person of honour. A third sister, 
Mary, was married to the Earl of Breadalbane, 
and it has been recorded that she also, not long 
after her marriage, had some such warning of her 
approaching dissolution.' 

The Irish novelist, John Banim, has written 
both a novel and a ballad on this subject, one 
which has also largely entered into many a tradi- 
tion and f oik- tale. ^ In Cumberland this ap- 
parition is known by the peasantry as a ' swarth,' 
and in Yorkshire by the name of a * wajff.' The 
gift of wraith-seeing still flourishes on the Continent, 
and examples abound in Silesia and the Tyrol. 

> See Popular Irish Superstitions, by W. B. Wilde, p. 109. 


* Withregard to bilocation, or double personality,* 
writes a Catholic priest,^ ' there is a great deal of 
very interesting matter in St. Thomas of Aquin, 
and also in Cardinal Cajetan's *' Commentaries of 
St. Thomas." The substance of the principles 
is this : Bilocation, properly so called, is defined 
by the scholastics as the perfect and simultaneous 
existence of one and the same individual in two 
distinct places at the same time. This never does 
and never can happen. But bilocation, improperly 
so called, and which St. Thomas terms raptus, 
does occur, and is identical with the double, as 
you call it, in the cases of St. Gennadius, St. 
Ignatius, &c. 

' St. Thomas quotes as illustrations or instances, 
St. Paul being taken up to the Third Heaven. Ezekiel, 
the prophet, was taken by God and shown Jerusalem, 
whilst at the same time he was sitting in the room 
with the ancients of the tribe of Judah before him 
(Ezekiel viii.), &c. In which the soul of man is 
not wholly detached from the body, being neces- 
sary for the purpose of giving life, but is detached 

^ More Ohost StorieSt collected and edited by W. T. Stead, 
1892, p. 22. 


from the senses of the body. St. Thomas gives 
three causes for this phenomenon : (1) Divine 
power ; (2) the power of the Devil ; and (3), 
disease of the body when very violent sometimes.' 
Bardinus tells how Marsilius Ficinus appeared at 
the hour of his death on a white horse to Michael 
Mercatus, and rode away crying, ' Michael, 
Michael, vera, vera sunt ilia,' that is, the doctrine 
of a future life is true. Instances of this kind of 
phenomenon have been common in all ages of the 
world, and Lucretius suggested the strange fancy 
that the superficial surfaces of all bodies were 
continually flying off like the coats of an onion, 
which accounted for the appearance of apparitions ; 
whilst Jacques Gaffarel suggested that corrupting 
bodies send forth vapours w^hich, being compressed 
by the cold night air, appear visible to the eye in 
the forms of men.^ 

In one of the notes to 'Les Imaginations 
Extravagantes de Monsieur Oufle,' by the Abbe 
Bordelon, it is said that the monks and nuns, 
a short time before their death, have seen the 
images of themselves seated in their chairs or stalls. 

^ See Mrs. Crowe's Night Side of Nature, 1854, p. 111. 


Catharine of Eussia, after retiring to her bedroom, 
was told that she had been seen just before to 
enter the State Chamber. On hearing this she 
went thither, and saw the exact simiHtude of her- 
self seated upon the throne. She ordered her guards 
to fire upon it. 

In Scotland and the northern counties of Eng- 
land it was formerly said that the apparition of 
the person that was doomed to die within a short 
time was seen wrapped in a winding-sheet, and the 
higher the winding-sheet reached up towards the 
head the nearer was death. This apparition 
was seen during day, and it might show itself to 
anyone, but only to one, who generally fell into a 
faint a short time afterwards. If the person who 
saw the apparition was alone at the time, the fainting 
fit did not come on till after meeting with others. 

In the ' Statistical Account of Scotland ' (xxf. 
148), the writer, speaking of the parish of Mori^ 'J 
quhitter, says, the ' fye gave due warning by certain 
signs of approaching mortality ' ; and, again (149), 
*the fye has withdrawn his warning.' Some 
friends observing to an old woman, when in the 
ninty-ninth year of her age, that, in the course of 

B B 


nature, she could not long survive, she remarked, 
with pointed indignation, * What fye-token do you 
see about me ? ' 

In the same work (iii. 380) the minister 
of Applecross, county of Eoss, speaking of the 
superstitions of that parish, says : ' The ghosts of 
the dying, called " tasks," are said to be heard, 
their cry being a repetition of the moans of the 
sick. Some assume the sagacity of distinguishing 
the voice of their departed friends. The corpse 
follows the track led by the ''tasks " to the place of 
interment, and the early or late completion of the 
prediction is made to depend on the period of the 
night at which the " task " is heard.' 

The Scotch wraith and Irish fetch have their 
parallel in Wales in the Lledrith, or spectre of a 
person seen before his death. It never speaks, and 
vanishes if spoken to. It has been seen by miners 
previous to a fatal accident in the mine. The 
story is told of a miner who saw himself lymg dead 
and horribly maimed in a phantom tram-car, led 
by a phantom horse, and surrounded by phantom 
miners. As he watched this dreadful group of 
spectres they passed on, looking neither to the 


right nor the left, and faded away. The miner's 
dog was as frightened as its master, and ran away 
howhng. The miner continued to work in the pit, 
and as the days passed on and no harm came to 
him he grew more cheerful, and was so bold as to 
laugh at the superstition. But the day he did this 
a stone fell from the roof and broke his arm. As 
soon as he recovered he resumed work in the pit ; 
but a stone crushed him, and he was borne maimed 
and dead in the tram along the road where his 
* lledrith ' had appeared.^ 

'Examining,' says Dr. Tylor,^ 'the position of 
the doctrine of wraiths among the higher races, 
we find it specially prominent in three intellectual 
districts : Christian hagiology, popular folk-lore, and 
modern spiritualism. St. Anthony saw the soul of St. 
Ammonius carried to heaven in the midst of choirs 
of angels, the same day that the holy hermit died 
five days' journey off in the desert of Nitria. When 
St. Ambrose died on Easter Eve, several newly- 
baptized children saw the holy bishop and pointed 
him out to their parents ; but these, with their less 

' Wirt Sikes, British Goblins, p. 215. 
2 Primitive Culture, 1891, i. p. 448. 

B B 2 


pure eyes, could not behold him.' Numerous 
instances of wraith-seeing have been chronicled 
from time to time, some of which are noteworthy. 
It is related how Ben Jonson, when staying at Sir 
Eobert Cotton's house, was visited by the apparition 
of his eldest son, with a mark of a bloody cross 
upon his forehead, at the moment of his death by 
the plague. Lord Balcarres, it is said, when in 
confinement in Edinburgh Castle under suspicion 
of Jacobitism, was one morning lying in bed 
when the curtains were drawn aside by his friend 
Viscount Dundee, who looked upon him steadfastly, 
and then left the room. Shortly afterwards the 
news came that he had fallen about the same hour 
at Killiecrankie. Lord Mohun, who was killed in a 
duel in Chelsea Fields, is reported to have appeared 
at the moment of his death, in the year 1642, to a 
lady in James Street, Covent Garden, and also 
to the sister of Glanvill, famous as the author of 
* Sadducismus Triumphatus.' It is related how 
the second Earl of Chesterfield, in 1652, saw, when 
walking, a spectre with long white robes and black 
face. Regarding it as an intimation of some ill- 
ness of his wife, then visiting her father at Net- 


worth, he set off early to inquire, and met a ser- 
vant from Lady Chesterfield, describing the same 
apparition. xA.nna Maria Porter, when living at 
Esher, was visited by an old gentleman, a neigh- 
bour, who frequently came in to tea. On this 
occasion, the story goes, he left the room with- 
out speaking ; and, fearing that something had 
happened, she sent to inquire, and found that 
he had died at the moment of his appearance. 
Similarly Maria Edge worth, when waiting with her 
family for an expected guest, saw in a vacant chair 
the apparition of a sailor cousin, who suddenly 
stated that his ship had been wrecked and he him- 
self the only one saved. The event proved the con- 
trary — he alone was drowned.^ 

One of the most striking and best authenticated 
cases on record is known as the Birkbeck Ghost, 
and is thus related in the ' Proceedings of the 
Psychical Kesearch Society ' : * In 1789, Mrs. 
Birkbeck, wife of William Birkbeck, banker, of 
Settle, and a member of the Society of Friends, 
was taken ill and died at Cockermouth while 
returning from a journey to Scotland, w^hich she 

' Eeal Ghost Stories, W. T. Stead, p. 103. 


had undertaken alone — her husband and three chil- 
dren, aged seven, five, and four years respectively, 
remaining at Settle. The friends at whose house 
the death occurred made notes of every circum- 
stance attending Mrs. Birkbeck's last hours, so 
that the accuracy of the several statements as to 
time as well as place was be^^ond the doubtfulness 
of man's memory, or of any even unconscious 
attempt to bring them into agreement with each 
other. One morning, between seven and eight 
o'clock, the relation to whom the care of the 
children had been entrusted, and who kept a minute 
journal of all that concerned them, went into their 
bedroom, as usual, and found them all sitting up 
in bed in great excitement and delight. '' Mamma 
has been here," they cried; and the little one said, 
*' She called, ' Come, Esther ! ' " Nothing could 
make them doubt the fact, and it was carefully 
noted down to entertain the mother when she came 
home. That same morning, as their mother lay on 
her dying bed at Cockermouth, she said, *' I should 
be ready to go if I could but see my children." 
She then closed her eyes, to reopen them, as they 
thought, no more. But after ten minutes of perfect 


stillness she looked up brightly, and said, ** I am 
ready now; I have been with my children; " and 
at once passed peacefully away. When the notes 
taken at the two places were compared, the day, 
hour, and minutes were the same.' 

Baxter, in his * World of Spirits,' records a 
very similar case of a dying woman visiting her 
children in Rochester, and in a paper on * Ghosts 
and Goblins,' which appeared in the ^ Cornhill ' 
(1873, xxvii. 457), the writer relates how, in a house 
in Ireland, a girl lay dying. Her mother and father 
were with her, and her five sisters were praying for 
her in a neighbouring room. This room was well 
lit, but overhead was a skyKght, and the dark sky 
beyond. One of the sisters, looking towards this 
skylight, saw there the face of her dying sister look- 
ing sorrowfully down upon them. She seized an- 
other sister and pointed to the skyhght ; one after 
another the sisters looked where she pointed. They 
spoke no word ; and in a few moments their father 
and mother called them to the room where their 
sister had just died. But when afterwards they 
talked together about what had happened that 
night, it was found that they had all seen the vision 


and the sorrowful face. But, as the writer observes, 
' in stories where a ghost appears for some useful 
purpose, the mind does not reject the event as alto- 
gether unreasonable, though the circumstances may 
be sufficiently preposterous ; ' but one can conceive 
no reason why the vision of a dying sister should 
look down through a skylight. 

x\ccording to a Lancashire belief, the spirits of 
persons about to die, especially if the persons be 
in distant lands, are supposed to return to their 
friends, and thus predict the event. While the 
spirit is thus away, the person is supposed to be in 
a swoon, and unaware of what is passing. But his 
desire to see his friends is necessary ; and he must 
have been thinking of them.^ 

It is related from Devonshire, of the well-known 
Dr. Hawker, that, when walking one night, he 
observed an old woman pass by him, to whom he 
was in the habit of giving a weekly charity. As 
soon as she had passed, he felt somebody puU his 
coat, and on looking round he recognised her, and 
put his hand in his pocket to seek for a sixpence, 
but on turning to give it to her she was gone. On 

' Earland and Wilkinson, Lancashire Folk-lore, p. 105, 


his return home he heard she was dead, hut his 
family had forgotten to mention the circumstance.^ 

A correspondent of * Notes and Queries ' (3rd 
S. vi. 182) tells how a judge of the Staffordshire 
County Courts, being on one occasion in the North, 
went with his sisters into the church of the place 
to inspect its monuments. While there they were 
surprised to see a lady, whom they knew to be in 
Bath, walk in at one door and out through another. 
They immediately followed, but could neither see 
nor hear anything further of her. On writing to 
her friends, it was found that she was dead, and a 
second letter elicited the fact that she had died at 
the very same time at which she had been seen by 
them in the North. 

Patrick Kennedy, in his * Legendary Fiction of 
the Irish Celt,' speaking of the Irish fetch, gives 
the following tale of ' The Doctor's Fetch,' based, 
it is stated, on the most authentic sources : ' In 
one of our Irish cities, and in a room where the 
mild moonbeams were resting on the carpet and 
on a table near the window', Mrs. B., wife of a 
doctor in good practice and general esteem, looking 
* Quoted by Mrs. Crowe, Night Side of Nature, p. 202. 


towards the window from her pillow, was startled 
by the appearance of her husband standing near 
the table just mentioned, and seeming to look with 
attention on the book wiiich was lying open on it. 
Now^ the living and breathing man was by her side 
apparently asleep, and, greatly as she was surprised 
and affected, she had sufficient command of herself 
to remain without moving, lest she should expose 
him to the terror which she herself at the moment 
experienced. After gazing on the apparition for a 
few seconds, she bent her eyes upon her husband 
to ascertain if his looks were turned in the direction 
of the window, but his eyes were closed. She 
turned round again, although now dreading the sight 
of what she believed to be her husband's fetch, 
but it was no longer there. She remained sleep- 
less throughout the remainder of the night, but 
still bravely refrained from disturbing her partner. 
* Next morning, Mr. B., seeing signs of disquiet 
on his wife's countenance while at breakfast, made 
some affectionate inquiries, but she concealed her 
trouble, and at his ordinary hour he sallied forth to 
make his calls. Meeting Dr. C. in the street, and 
falling into conversation with him, he asked his 


opinion on the subject of fetches. *' I think," was 
the answer, '* and so I am sure do you, that they are 
mere illusions produced by a disturbed stomach 
acting upon the excited brain of a highly ima- 
ginative or superstitious person." '* Then," said Dr. 
B., ** I am highly imaginative or superstitious, for 
I distinctly saw my own outward man last night 
standing at the table in the bedroom, and clearly 
distinguishable in the moonlight. I am afraid my 
wife saw it too, but I have been afraid to speak to 
her on the subject." 

* About the same hour on the ensuing night the 
poor lady was again roused, but by a more painful 
circumstance. She felt her husband moving con- 
vulsively, and immediately afterwards he cried to 
her in low, interrupted accents, '* Ellen, my dear, 
I am suffocating ; send for Dr. C." She sprang up, 
huddled on some clothes, and ran to his house. 
He came with all speed, but his efforts for his 
friend were useless. He had burst a large blood- 
vessel in the lungs, and was soon beyond human 
aid. In her lamentations the bereaved wife fre- 
quently cried out, ** Oh ! the fetch, the fetch ! " and 
at a later period told the doctor of the appearance 


the night before her husband's death.' But, whilst 
many stories of this kind are open to explanation, 
it is a singular circumstance how even several 
persons may be deceived by an illusion such as the 
following. A gentleman who had lately lost his 
wife, looking out of window in the dusk of evening, 
saw her sitting in a garden-chair. He called one 
of his daughters and asked her to look out into the 
garden. * Why,' she said, * mother is sitting there.' 
Another daughter was called, and she experienced 
the same illusion. Then the gentleman went out 
into the garden, and found that a garden-dress 
of his wife's had been placed over the seat in such 
a position as to produce the illusion which had 
deceived himself and his daughters. 

In ' Phantasms of the Living ' ^ very many 
strange and startling cases are recorded, in which 
the mysterious * double ' has appeared, sometimes 
speaking, and sometimes without speech, although 
such manifestations have not always been omens 
of death. Thus the late Lord Dorchester ^ is said to 
have seen the phantom of his daughter standing 

* Messrs. Gurney, Myers, and Podmore. 

* Phantasms of the Living, ii. p. 531, 


at the window, having his attention aroused by its 
shadow, which fell across the book he was reading 
at the time. She had accompanied a fishing ex- 
pedition, was caught in a storm, and was distressed 
at the thought that her father would be anxious on 
her account. 

In Fitzroy's ' Cruise of the Beagle ' an anecdote 
is told of a young Fuegian, Jemmy Button, and his 
father's ghost. * While at sea, on board the 
"Beagle," about the middle of the year 1842, he 
said one morning to Mr. Byno, that in the night 
some man came to the side of his hammock, and 
whispered in his ear that his father was dead. 
Mr. Byno tried to laugh him out of the idea, 
but ineffectually. He fully believed that such was 
the case, and maintained his opinion up to the 
time of finding his relations in Beagle Channel, 
when, I regret to say, he found that his father had 
died some months previously.' This story is 
interesting, especially as Mr. Lang says it is the 
only one he has encountered among savages, of a 
warning conveyed to a man by a ghost as to the 
death of a friend.^ 

* Nineteenth Century, April 1865, p. 629. 




Shakespeare, quoting from an early legend, has 
reminded us that at Christmastide * no spirit dares 
stir abroad.' And yet, in spite of this time-honoured 
belief, Christmas would seem to be one of the 
favourite seasons of the year for ghosts to make 
their presence felt in all kinds of odd ways. Many 
an old baronial hall, with its romantic associations 
and historic legends, is occasionally, as Christmas- 
time comes round, disturbed by certain uncanny 
sounds, which timidity is only too ready to invest 
with the most mysterious and unaccountable as- 
sociations. One reason for this nervous credulity 
may be ascribed to the fact that, as numerous old 
country seats are supposed to be haunted, Christ- 
mas is a fitting opportunity for the ghost to catch 
a glimpse of the family revelry and mirth. But, 
judging from the many legendary tales which have 


been handed down in connection with Christmas, it 
would seem that these spirit-members of the family 
intrude their presence on their relatives in the 
flesh in various ways. In Ireland, the ill-fated 
Banshee has selected this season on more than one 
occasion, to warn the family of coming trouble. 
According to one tale told from Ireland, one 
Christmas Eve, when the family party were 
gathered round the festive board in an old castle in 
the South of Ireland, the prancing of horses was 
suddenly heard, and the sharp cracking of the 
driver's whip. Imagining that one of the absent 
members of the family had arrived, some of the 
young people moved to the door, but found that it 
was the weird apparition of the ' headless coach 
and horseman.' 

Many such stories might be enumerated, which, 
under one form or another, have imparted a 
dramatic element to the season. With some of 
our country peasantry, there is a deep-rooted 
dread of encountering anything either bordering 
on, or resembling, the supernatural, as sometimes 
spirits are supposed at Christmastide to be un- 
friendly towards mankind. In Northamptonshire, 


for instance, there is a strange notion that the 
ghosts of unfortunate individuals buried at cross- 
roads have a particular license to wander about on 
Christmas Eve, at which time they wreak their evil 
designs upon defenceless and unsuspecting persons. 
But conduct of this kind seems to be the exception, 
and ghosts are oftentimes invoked at Christmastide 
by those anxious to have a foretaste of events in store 
for them. Thus, the anxious maiden, in her eager 
desire to know something of her matrimonial pros- 
pects, has often subjected herself to the most trying 
ordeal of ' courting a ghost.' In many countries, 
at the ' witching hour of midnight, on Christmas 
Eve,' the candidate for marriage goes into the 
garden and plucks twelve sage leaves, 'under a 
firm conviction that she will be favoured with a 
glimpse of the shadowy form of her future husband 
as he approaches her from the opposite end of the 
garden.' But a ceremony observed in Sweden, in 
years past, must have required a still more strong- 
minded person to take advantage of its prophetic 
powers. It was customary in the morning twilight 
of Christmas Day, to go into a wood, without 
making the slightest noise, or uttering a word ; 


total abstinence from eating and drinking being 
another necessary requirement. If these rules were 
observed, it was supposed that the individual as he 
went along the path leading to the church, would 
be favoured with a sight of as many funerals as 
would pass that way during the ensumg year. 
With this practice may be compared one current in 
Denmark, where, it is said, when a family are sitting 
together on Christmas Eve, if anyone is desirous of 
knowing whether a death will occur amongst them 
during the ensuing year, he must go outside, and 
peep silently through the window, and the person 
who appears at table sitting without a head, will 
die before Christmas comes round again. The feast 
of St. Agnes was formerly held in high veneration 
by women who wished to know when and whom 
they should marry. It was required that on this 
day they should not eat — which was called ' fasting 
St. Agnes' fast ' — if they wished to have visions 
of delight, a piece of superstition on which Keats 
has founded his poem, *The Eve of St. Agnes:' 

They told me how, upon St. Agnes' Eve, 
Young vu^gins might have visions of delight, 
And soft adorings from their love receive, 
Upon the honey'd middle of the night 

c c 


If ceremonies due they did aright ; 

As supperless to bed they must retire, 

And couch supine their beauties, lily white, 

Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require 

Of heaven, with upward eyes, for all that they desire. 

Lajdng down on her back that night, with her 
hands under her head, the anxious maiden was led 
to expect that her future spouse w^ould appear in a 
dream, and salute her with a kiss. Various charms 
have long been observed on St. Valentine's Eve, 
and Poor Eobin's Almanack tells us how : 

On St. Mark's Eve, at tw^elve o'clock. 
The fair maid will watch her smock, 
To find her husband in the dark, 
By praying unto good St. Mark. 

But St. Mark's Eve w^as a great day for apparitions. 
Allusion has been made in a previous chapter to 
watching in the church porch for the ghosts of 
those who are to be buried in the churchyard during 
the following months ; and Jamieson tells us of a 
practice kept up in the northern counties, known 
as * ash-ridlin.' The ashes being sifted, or riddled, 
on the hearth, if any one of the family * be to die 
within the year, the mark of the shoe, it is sup- 
posed, will be impressed on the ashes ; and many 


a mischievous wight has made some of the credulous 
family miserable, by slyly coming downstairs after 
the rest have retired to bed, and marking the 
ashes with the shoe of one of the members.' 

In Peru it is interesting to trace a similar 
superstitious usage. As soon as a dying man draws 
his last breath, ashes are strewed on the floor of the 
room, and the door is securely fastened. Next 
morning the ashes are carefully examined to ascer- 
tain whether they show any impression of footsteps, 
and imagination readily traces marks, which are 
alleged to have been produced by the feet of birds, 
dogs, cats, oxen, or llamas. The destiny of the dead 
person is construed by the footmarks which are 
supposed to be discernible. The soul has assumed 
the form of that animal whose tracks are found. ^ 

There is St. John's, or Midsummer Eve, around 

which many weird and ghostly superstitions have 

clustered. Grose informs us that if anyone sit in 

the church porch, he will see the spirits of those 

destined to die that year come and knock at the 

church door in the order of their decease. In 

Ireland there is a popular belief that on St. John's 

> Dorman's Primitive Sujpcrstitions, p. 48. 



Eve the souls of all persons leave their bodies, and 
wander to the place, by land or sea, where death 
shall finally separate them from the tenement of 
the clay. The same notion of a temporary libera- 
tion of the soul gave rise to a host of superstitious 
observances at this time, resembling those con- 
nected with Hallow Eve. Indeed, this latter night 
is supposed to be the time of all others when 
supernatural influences prevail. ' It is the night,' 
we are told, * set apart for a universal walking abroad 
of spirits, both of the visible and invisible world ; 
for one of the special characteristics attributed to 
this mystic evening is the faculty conferred on the 
immaterial principle in humanity to detach itself 
from its corporeal tenement and wander abroad 
through the realms of space. Divination is then 
believed to attain its highest power, and the gift 
asserted by Glendower of calling spirits " from the 
vast deep " becomes available to all who choose to 
avail themselves of the privileges of the occa- 
sion.' ^ Similarly, in Germany on St. Andrew's 
Eve, young women try various charms in the 
hope of seeing the shadow of their sweethearts ; 
^ See Boole of Days, ii. pp. 519-521. 


one of the rhymes used on the occasion being 

this : 

St. Andrew's Eve is to-day; 

Sleep all people, 

Sleei? all children of men 

Who are between heaven and earth, 

Except this only man, 

Who may be mine in marriage. 

The story goes that a girl once summoned the 
shadow of her future husband. Precisely as the 
clock struck twelve he appeared, drank some wine, 
laid a three-edged dagger on the table and vanished. 
The girl put the dagger into her trunk. Some 
years afterwards there came a man from a distant 
part to the town where the girl dwelt, bought 
property there, and married her. He was, in fact, 
the identical person whose form had appeared to 
her. Some time after their marriage the husband 
by chance opened the trunk, and there found the 
dagger, at the sight of which he became furious. 
* Thou art the girl,' said he, ' who years ago forced 
me to come hither from afar in the night, and it 
was no dream. Die, therefore ! ' and with these 
words he thrust the dagger into her heart. ^ 

It may be added, that by general consent night- 
^ See Thorpe's Northern Mythology, iii. p. 144. 


time is the season when spirits wander abroad. 
The appearance of morning is the signal for their 

The flocking shadows pale, 

Troop to the infernal jail ; 

Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave, 

And the yellow skirted fays, 

Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their noon-loved maze. 

The ghost of Hamlet's father says, 'Methinks I 

scent the morning air,' and adds : 

' Fare thee well at once ! 
The glow-worm shows the matins to be near.' 

According to a popular notion formerly current, 
the presence of unearthly beings was announced by 
an alteration m the tints of the lights which hap- 
pened to be burning — a superstition alluded to in 
*Eichard III.' (Act v. sc. 3) — where the tjTant ex- 
claims as he awakens : 

' The lights bm'n blue. It is now dead midnight, 
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh. 

Methought the souls of aU that I had murder' d 
Came to my tent.' 

So in * Julius Caesar ' (Act iv. sc. 3), Brutus, on see- 
ing the ghost of Caesar, exclaims : 

' How ill this taper burns. Ha ! who comes here ? ' 




According to Empedocles * there are two destinies 
for the souls of highest Tirtue — to pass into trees 
or into the bodies of Hons,' this conception of 
plants as the habitation of the departing soul 
being founded on the old idea of transmigration. 
Illustrations of the primitive belief meet us in all 
ages, reminding us how Dante passed through that 
leafless wood, in the bark of every tree of which was 
confined a suicide ; and of Ariel's imprisonment : 

Into a cloven pine, within which rift 
Imprison'd, thou didst painfully remain 
A dozen years. . . . 

. . . "Where thou didst vent thy groans, 
As fast as mill-wheels strike. 

In German folk-lore the soul is supposed oc- 
casionally to take the form of a flower, as a lily or 
white rose ; and, according to a popular belief, one 
of these flowers appears on the chairs of those 


about to die. Grimm ^ tells a pretty tale of a child 
who ' carries home a bud which the angel had given 
him in the wood ; when the rose blooms the child 
is dead.' Similarly, from the grave of one unjustly 
executed white lilies are said to spring as a token 
of the person's innocence, and from that of a 
maiden three lilies, which no one save her lover 
must gather, a superstition which, under one form 
or another, has largely prevailed both amongst 
civilised and savage communities. In Iceland it is 
said that when innocent persons are put to death, 
the sorb or mountain ash will spring over their 
grave, and the Lay of Runzifal makes a blackthorn 
shoot out of the bodies of slain heathens, and a white 
flower by the heads of fallen Christians. The 
well-known story of ' Tristram and Ysonde ' tells 
how ' from his grave there grew an eglantine which 
twined about the statue, a marvel for all men to see ; 
and though three times they cut it down, it grew 
again, and ever wound its arms about the image 
of the fair Ysonde.' With which legend may be 
compared the old Scottish ballad of * Fair Margaret 
and Sweet William ' : 

1 Teutonic Mijtliology, ii, p. 827. 


Out of her breast there sprang a rose, 
And out of his a briar ; 
Thej grew till they grew to the church top, 
And there they tied in a true lover's knot. 

It is to this time-honoured fancy that Laertes refers 

when he wishes that violets may spring from the 

grave of Ophelia,^ and Lord Tennyson has borrowed 

the same idea : 

And from his ashes may be made. 
The violet of his native land.- 

Some of the North-Western Indians believed that 
those who died a natural death would be compelled 
to dwell among the branches of tall trees, and the 
Brazilians have a mythological character called 
Mani ^ — a child who died and was buried in the 
house of her mother. Soon a plant — the Mandioca 
— sprang out of the grave, which grew, flourished, 
and bore fruit. According to the Iroquois, the 
spirits of certain trees are supposed to have the 
forms of beautiful females ; recalling, writes Mr. 
Herbert Spencer,^ * the dryads of classic myth- 

' Hamlet, Act v. sc. 1. 

2 See Folk-lore of Plants, pp. 12, 13. 

^ Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, p. 293. 

^ Principles of Sociology, 1885, pp. 357-359. 


ology, who, similarly conceived as human-shaped 
female spirits, were sacrificed to in the same ways 
that human spirits in general were sacrificed to.* 

* By the Santals,' he adds, * these spirits or ghosts 
are individualised. At their festivals the separate 
famines dance round the particular trees which 
they fancy their domestic lares chiefly haunt.' 

In modern Greece certain trees are supposed to 
have their * stichios,' a being variously described 
as a spectre, a wandering soul, a vague phantom, 
occasionally invisible, and sometimes assuming the 
most widely different forms. When a tree is 

* stichimonious,' it is generally considered dangerous 
for anyone * to sleep beneath its shade, and the 
woodcutters employed to cut it down will lie upon 
the ground and hide themselves, motionless, and 
holding their breath, at the moment when it is 
about to fall, dreading lest the stichio at whose 
life the blow is aimed with each blow of the axe, 
should avenge itself at the precise moment when 
it is dislodged.' ^ This idea is abundantly illus- 
trated in European folk-lore, and a Swedish legend 

* Nineteenth Century, April, 1882, p. 394 ; Superstitions of 
Modern Greece, by M. Le Baron d'Estournelles. 


tells how, when a man was on the point of cutting 
down a juniper tree, a voice was heard saying, 
'Friend, hew me not.' But he gave another 
blow, when, to his horror and amazement, blood 
gushed from the root. 

Such spirit-haunted trees have been supposed 
to give proof of their peculiar character by certain 
weird and mysterious signs. Thus the Australian 
bush- demons whistle in the branches, and Mr. 
Schoolcraft mentions an Indian tradition of a 
hollow tree, from the recesses of which there issued 
on a calm day a sound like the voice of a spirit. 
Hence it was considered to be inhabited by some 
powerful spndt, and was deemed sacred. The holes 
in trees have been supposed to be the doors through 
which the spirits pass, a belief which reappears 
in the German idea that the holes in the oak are 
the pathways for elves, and that various diseases 
may be cured by contact with these holes. It is not 
surprising, too, that the idea of spirit-haunted trees 
caused them to be regarded by the superstitious 
with feelings of awe. Mr. Dorman tells us ^ of cer- 
tain West Indian tribes, that if any person going 
* Primitive Superstitions, p. 288. 


through a wood perceived a motion in the trees 
which he regarded as supernatural, frightened at 
the strange prodigy, he would address himself to 
that tree which shook the most. Similarly, when 
the wind blows the long grass or waving corn, the 
German peasant is wont to say that the * Grass- 
wolf,' or the ' Corn -wolf ' is abroad. Under a variety 
of forms this animistic conception is found in dif- 
ferent parts of the world, and has been embodied 
in many a folk-tale — an Austrian Marchen relat- 
ing, for instance, how there sits in a stately fir- 
tree a fairy maiden waited on by a dwarf, reward- 
ing the innocent and plaguing the guilty ; and 
there is the German song of the maiden in the 
pine, whose bark the boy split with a gold and 
silver horn. 




The presence of troubled phantoras in certain 
localities has long been attributed to their being 
interested in the whereabouts of certain secreted 
treasures, the disposal of which to the rightful 
owner having been frustrated through death having 
prematurely summoned them from their mortal 
existence. Traditions of the existence of large 
sums of hidden money are associated with many 
of our own country mansions. Such a legend was 
long connected with Hulme Castle, formerly a 
seat of a branch of the Prestwich family. The 
hoard was generally supposed to have been hidden 
either in the hall itself or in the grounds adjoining, 
and was said to be protected by spells and incanta- 
tions. Many years ago the hall was pulled down, 
but, although considerable care was taken to search 


every spot, no money was discovered. Secreted 
treasure is associated with the apparition of 
Madame Beswick, who used to haunt Birchen 
Tower, HoUinwood ; ^ and an eccentric spectre 
known as ' Silky,' which used to play all kinds 
of strange pranks in the village of Black Heddon, 
Northumberland, was commonly supposed to be 
the troubled phantom of a certain lady who had 
died before having an opportunity of disclosing 
the whereabouts of some hoarded money. With 
the discovery of the gold, this unhappy spirit is 
said to have disappeared. The story goes that 
one day, in a house at Black Heddon, a terrific 
noise was heard, which caused the servant to 
exclaim, * The deevil's in the house ! the deevil's 
in the house ! He's come through the ceiling ! ' 
But on the room being examined where the noise 
occurred, a great dog's skin was found on the floor, 
filled with gold, after which time ' Silky ' was 
neither seen nor heard. 

Equally strange is the legend related of Swinsty 
Hall, which tells how its original founder was a 
poor weaver, who travelled to London at a time 
» See Ingram's Haunted Eomcs, 2ud S. pp. 2i, 25. 


when the plague was raging, and finding many 
houses desolate and uninhabited, took possession of 
the money left without an owner, to such an extent 
that he loaded a waggon with the wealth thus ac- 
quired, and, returning to his home, he built Swinsty 
Hall. But he cannot cleanse himself from the 
contamination of the ill-acquired gold, and at times, 
it is said, his unquiet spirit has been seen bending 
over the Greenwell Spring rubbing away at his 
ghastly spoil. Mr. Henderson ^ gives the history 
of an apparition which, with retributive justice, 
once haunted a certain Yorkshire farmer. An old 
woman of Sexhow, near Stokesley, appeared after 
her death to a farmer of the place, and informed 
him that beneath a certain tree in his apple 
orchard he would find a hoard of gold and silver 
which she had buried there ; the silver he was to 
keep for his trouble, but the gold he was to give 
to a niece of hers living in great poverty. The 
farmer went to the spot indicated, found the 
money, and kept it all to himself. But from that 
day his conscience gave him no rest, and every night, 
at home or abroad, old Nanny's ghost dogged his 
' Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 322. 


steps. At last one evening the neighbours heard 
him returning from Stokesley market very late ; 
his horse was galloping furiously, and as he 
passed a neighbour's house, its inmates heard him 
screaming out, ' I will, I will, I will ! ' and looking 
out they saw a little old woman in black, with a 
large straw hat on her head, clingmg to him. The 
farmer's hat was off, his hair stood on end, as he 
fled past them uttering his fearful cry, * I will, I 
will, I will ! ' But when the horse reached the 
farm all was still, for the rider was a corpse. 

Tradition asserts that the * white lady ' who 
long haunted Blenkinsopp Castle, is the ghost of 
the wife of Bryan de Blenkinsopp, who quarrelled 
with her husband, and in a fit of spite she concealed 
a chest of gold that took twelve of the strongest 
men to carry into the castle. Filled with remorse 
for her undutiful conduct, the unhappy woman can- 
not rest in her grave, but her spirit is doomed to 
wander back to the old castle, and to mourn over 
the accursed wealth of which its rightful owner 
was defrauded. 

An old farm, popularly 'known in the neigh- 
bourhood as ' Sykes' Lumb Farm,' from having 


been inhabited for many generations by a family 
of the name of Sykes, was long hamited by an 
old wrinkled woman who, one night, being in- 
terrogated by an occupier of the farm as to the 
cause of her w^andering about, made no reply, but 
proceeding towards the stump of an old apple tree 
in the orchard, pointed significantly to the ground 
beneath. On search being made, there was found 
buried deep in the earth a jar of money, on the 
discovery of which the phantom vanished. 

Anecdotes of treasures concealed at the bottom 
of wells are of frequent occurrence, and the ' white 
ladies ' who dwell in the lakes, wells, and seas of 
so many countries, are owners of vast treasures, 
which they occasionally offer to mortals. Tradi- 
tion says that in a pool known as Wimbell Pond 
at Acton, Suffolk, is concealed an iron chest of 
money, and if any person approach the pond and 
throw a stone into the water, it will ring against 
the chest — a small white figure having been heard 
to cry in accents of distress, ' That's mine.' ^ 

Scotland has many such stories. It is popu- 
larly believed that for many ages past a pot of 

■ Notes and Queries, 1st S. v. p. 195. 

P D 


gold has lain at the bottom of a pool beneath 
a fall of the rivulet underneath Craufurdland 
Bridge, about three miles from Kilmarnock. 
Many attempts have been made to recover this 
treasure, but something unforeseen has always 
happened to prevent a successful issue. * The 
last effort made, by the Laird of Craufurdland him- 
self,' writes Mr. Chambers,^ ' w^as early in the last 
century, at the head of a party of his domestics, who 
first dammed up the w^ater, then emptied the pool of 
its contents, and had heard their instruments clink 
on the kettle, when a voice was heard saying : 

Pow, pow ! 

Craiifurclland tower 's a' in a low ! 

Whereupon the laird left the scene, followed by 
his servants, and ran home to save what he could. 
Of course, there w^as no fire in the house, and 
when they came back to renew their operations, 
they found the water falling over the lin in full 
force. Being now convinced that a power above 
that of mortals was opposed to their researches, 
the laird and his people gave up the attempt. 
Such is the traditionary story, whether,' adds Mr. 

^ Pojyiilar lihymes of Scotland, pp. 241-242. 


Chambers, * founded on any actual occurrence, or 
a mere fiction of the peasants' brain, cannot be 
ascertained ; but it is curious that a later and well 
authenticated effort to recover the treasure was 
interrupted by a natural occurrence in some 
respects similar.' 

Vast treasures are said to be concealed beneath 
the ruins of Hermitage Castle, but, as they are in 
the keeping of the Evil One, they are considered 
beyond redemption. Venturesome persons have 
occasionally made the attempt to dig for them, 
but a storm of thunder and lightning has gene- 
rally deterred the adventurers from proceeding, 
otherwise, of course, the money would have long 
ago been found. It is ever, we are told, that 
such supernatural obstacles come in the way of 
these interesting discoveries. Mr. Chambers relates 
how * an honest man in Perthshire, named Finlay 
Eobertson, about a hundred yearc ago, went with 
some stout-hearted companions to seek for the 
treasures which were supposed to be concealed in 
the darksome cave of a deceased Highland robber, 
but just as they had commenced operations with 
their mattocks, the whole party were instan- 

D D 2 


taneously struck, as by an electric shock, which 
sent them home with fear and trembhng, and they 
were ever after remarked as silent, mysterious 
men, very apt to take offence when allusion was 
made to their unsuccessful enterprise.' ^ 

In Scotland and the North of England, the 
Brownie was regarded as a guardian of hidden 
treasure, and ' to him did the Borderers commit 
their money or goods, when, according to the 
custom prevalent in wdld insecure countries, they 
concealed them in the earth.' Some form of 
incantation was practised on the occasion, such 
as the dropping upon the treasure the blood of a 
slaughtered animal, or burying the slain animal 
with it.2 

According to the Welsh belief, if a person die 
while any hoarded money — or, indeed, metal of 
any kind, were it nothing more than old iron — 
is still secretly hidden, the spirit of that person 
cannot rest. Others affirm that it is only ill- 
gotten treasure wdiich creates this disturbance of 
the grave's repose ; but it is generally agreed that 
the soul's unquiet condition can only be relieved by 
finding a human hand to take the hidden metal, 

' Poindar Rhymes of Scotland, p. 240. 

2 Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties, pp. 247-248. 


and tllro^Y it cIo^mi the stream of a river. To throw 
it up a stream is useless. The spirit ' selects a 
particular person as the suhject of its attentions, 
and haunts that person till asked what it wants.' 
A story is told of a tailor's wife at Llantwit Major, 
a stout and jolly dame, who was thus haunted until 
she was worn to the semhlance of a skeleton, * for 
not choosing to take a hoard honestly to the 
Ogmore ' — the favourite river in Glamorganshire for 
this purpose. To quote her own w^ords, * I at last 
consented, for the sake of quiet, to take the treasure 
to the river, and the spirit wafted me through the 
air so high that I saw helow me the church loft and 
all the houses, as if I had leaned out of a halloon. 
When I took the treasure to throw it into the 
river, in my flurry I flung it up stream instead of 
down, and on this the spirit, with a savage look, 
tossed me into a whirlwind, and how ever I got 
hack to m}^ home I know^ not.' The hell-ring- 
ers found her lying insensihle in the Church 
lane, on their return from church, late in the 

No piece of folk-lore is more general in Ireland 
' Wirt Sikes : British Gohlins, pp. 151-152. 


than that gold or silver may be found under nearly 
all the raths, cah*ns, or old castles throughout the 
island. It is always a difficult task to exhume such 
buried treasure, for some preternatural guardian 
or other will be found on the alert. These buried 
treasures are usually deposited in ' a crock,' but 
whenever an attempt is made to lift it, some awful 
gorgon, or monster, appears. Sometimes a rushing 
wind sweeps over the plain, or from the opening 
made, with destructive force, carrying away the 
gold-seeker's hat or spade, or even, in various 
instances, the adventurer himself, who is deposited 
with broken bones, or a paralysed frame, at a 
respectful distance from the object of his quest. 
' On the banks of a northern river, and near a small 
eminence,' writes a correspondent of the ' Gentle- 
man's Magazine,' * ' is a beautiful green plot, on 
which two large, moss- covered stones over six hun- 
dred feet apart are shown. It is said two immense 
** crocks " of gold lie buried under these conspicuous 
landmarks, and that various attempts have been 
made to dig round and beneath them. In all those 
instances when a persistent effort has been made, 

' 1865, pt. ii. pp. 70G-707. 


a monk appeared in full habit, with a cross in his 
hand to warn off sacrilegious offenders.' 

Similar legends are found in different parts of 
the world. ' The Isle of Yellow Sands,' says Mr. 
Dorman,^ ' derives its chief interest from the 
traditions and fanciful tales which the Indians 
relate concerning its mineral treasures and their 
supernatural guardians. They pretend that its 
shores are covered with a heavy, shining, yellow 
sand, which they are persuaded is gold, but that 
the guardian spirit of the island will not permit any 
to be carried away. To enforce his commands, he 
has drawn together upon it myriads of eagles, 
hawks, and other l>irds of prey, who, by their cries 
w^arn him of any intrusions upon the domain, and 
assist with their claws and beaks to expel the 
enemy. He has also called from the depths of the 
lake, large serpents of the most hideous forms, who 
lie thickly coiled upon the golden sands, and hiss 
defiance to the steps of the intruder. A great 
many years ago, they say, some people driven by 
stress of weather upon the island, put a large 
quantity of the glittering treasure in their canoes 
' Primitive Superstitions, p. 310. 


and attempted to carry it off ; but a gigantic spirit 

strode into the water and in a tone of thunder 

commanded them to bring it back ' — 

Listen, white man, go not there ! 
Unseen spirits stalk the air ; 
Eavenous Lirds their influence lend, 
Snakes defy, and kites defend. . . . 
Touch not, then, the guarded lands, 
Of the Isle of Yellow Sands. 

The ' Ceylon Times ' records a remarkable' 
instance of superstition among the Tamul popu- 
lation employed, as labourers on a coffee estate. 
' It is the belief of all Orientals,' says the writer, 
' that hidden treasures are under the guardianship 
of supernatural beings. The Singhalese, however, 
divide the charge between demons and cobra da 
capellos. Various charms are resorted to by those 
who wish to gain the treasures, the demons requiring 
a sacrifice. Blood of a human being is the most 
important, but, as far as it is known, the Cappowas 
have hitherto confined themselves to the sacrifice of 
a white cock, combining its blood with their own, 
drawn by a sKght puncture in the hand or foot.' 

Many curious stories are on record of persons 
having been informed by ghosts of the whereabouts 


of hidden money, and of their having been directed 
to the spot where the hoarded treasure has lain for 
years secreted in its undetected recess. 

In the ' Antiquarian Repertory ' is a singular 
narrative of a man named Richard Clarke, a farm- 
labourer at Hamington, Northamptonshire, ^Yho 
was haunted by the ghost of a man who declared 
that he had been murdered near his own house 
267 years, 9 months, and 2 days ago, and buried 
in an orchard. He added that his wife and 
children, who had lived in Southwark, never knew 
what became of him ; that he had some treasures 
and papers buried in the cellar of a house near 
London, and that he (Clarke) must seek for it, 
and that he (the ghost) would meet him in the 
cellar, to assist him in the search. The ghost 
added that as soon as the money and the w^ritings 
were found, and duly delivered to certain relatives 
of his in Southwark, at such an address, removed 
from him in the fourth generation, he would cease 
to visit him, and would leave him in peace. 
Clarke went to town, and on London Bridge the 
ghost passed him, and conducted him to the 
house, where his wife had lived four generations 


before. Clarke found everything answering the 
description which the ghost had given him; the 
money and the documents \Yere discovered, the 
writings on vehum found, but those on paper 
decayed. Clarke divided the money, and acted as 
the ghost of the murdered man directed him to 
do ; and the latter ' lookt chearfully upon him, and 
gave him thankes, and said now he should be at 
rest, and spoke to those other persons which were 
of his generation, relations, but they had not 
couraoje to answer, but Clarke talkt for them.' 




Many of those weird melodious sounds which 
romance and legendary lore have connected with 
the enchanted strains of invisible music have 
originated in the moaning of the winds, and the 
rhythmical flow of the waves. In several of their 
operatic works, our dramatic composers have 
skilfully introduced the music of the fairies and 
of other aerial conceptions of the fancy, reminding 
us of those harmonious sounds which Caliban 
depicts in the * Tempest ' (Act iii. sc. 2) : 

The isle is full of noises, 
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not ; 
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments, 
"Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices 
That, if I then had waked after long sleep, 
"Will make me sleep again. 


Most countries have their stories and traditions 
of mysterious music which, in many cases, has 
been associated with certain supernatural pro- 
perties. Under one form or another, the beHef 
in phantom music has extensively prevailed 
throughout Europe, and in many parts of England 
it is still supposed to be heard, occasionally as a 
presage of death. It has been generally supposed 
that music is the favourite recreation of the 
spirits that haunt mountains, rivers, and all kinds 
of lonely places. The Indians would not ven- 
ture near Manitobah Island, their superstitious 
fears being due to the weird sounds produced by 
the waves as they beat upon the beach at the 
foot of the cliffs, near its northern extremity. 
During the night, when a gentle breeze was 
blowing from the north, the various sounds heard 
on the island were quite sufficient to strike awe 
into their minds. These sounds frequently re- 
sembled the ringing of distant bells ; so close, 
indeed, was the resemblance that travellers would 
awake during the night with the impression that 
they were listening to chimes. When the breeze 
subsided, and the waves played gently on the 


beach, a low wailing sound would be heard three 
hundred yards from the cliffs.^ 

Sometimes music is heard at sea, and it is 
believed in Ireland that when a friend or relative 
dies, a warning voice is discernible. The following 
is a rough translation of an Irish song founded on 
this superstition, which is generally sung to a 
singularly wild and melancholy air : 

A low sound of song from the distance I hear, 
In the silence of night, breathing sad on my ear. 
Whence comes it ? I know not — unearthly the note, 
And miearthly the tones through the air as they float ; 
Yet it sounds like the lay that my mother once sung, 
And o'er her firstborn in his cradle she hung. 

"When ships go down at sea, it is said the death- 
bell is at times distinctly heard, a superstition to 
which Sir Walter Scott alludes : 

And the kelpie rang, 

And the sea-maid sang. 

The dirge of lovely Eosabelle. 

At the present day, indeed, all kinds of phantom 
musical sounds are believed to float through the 
air — sounds which the peasantry, in days past, 
attributed to the fairies. 

' Dorman's Primitive Superstitions, p. 309. 


The American Indians have a similar piece of 
legendary lore. Gayarre, in his 'Louisiana,' says that 
mysterious music floats on the waters of the river 
Pascagoula, 'particularly on a calm moonlight 
night. It seems to issue from caverns or grottoes 
in the hed of the river, and sometimes oozes up 
through the water under the very keel of the hoat 
which contains the traveller, whose ear it strikes 
as the distant concert of a thousand ^olian harps. 
On the banks of the river, close by the spot where 
the music is heard, tradition says that there 
existed a tribe different from the rest of the 
Indians. Every night when the moon was visible, 
they gathered round the beautifully carved figure 
of a mermaid, and, with instruments of strange 
shape, worshipped the idol with such soul-stirring 
music as had never before blessed human ears. 
One day a priest came among them and tried to 
convert them from the worship of the mermaid. 
But on a certain night, at midnight, there came 
a rushing on the surface of the river, and the 
water seemed to be seized with a convulsive fury. 
The Indians and the priest rushed to the bank of 
the river to contemplate the supernatural spec- 


tacle. When she saw them, the mermaid turned 
her tones into still more bewitching melody, and 
kept chanting a sort of mystic song. The Indians 
listened with growing ecstasy, and one of them 
plunged into the river to rise no more. The rest 
— men, women, and children — followed in quick 
succession, moved, as it were, with the same irre- 
sistible impulse. When the last of the race dis- 
appeared, the river returned to its bed. Ever since 
that time is heard occasionally the distant music, 
which the Indians say is caused by their musical 
brethren, who still keep up their revels at the bottom 
of the river, in the palace of the mermaid.' 

It was a popular belief in years gone by, that 
it was dangerous to listen long to the weirdly 
fascinating influence of phantom music, or, as it 
was sometimes called, 'diabolic music,' as it was 
employed by evil-disposed spirits for the purpose 
of accomplishing some wicked design. Tradition 
tells how certain weird music was long since heard 
in an old mansion in Schleswig Holstein. The 
story goes that at a wedding there was a certain 
young lady present, who was the most enthusiastic 
dancer far and near, and who, in spite of having 


danced all the evening, petulantly exclaimed, ' If 
the devil himself ^Yere to call me out, I would not 
refuse him.' Suddenly the door of the ball-room 
flew open, and a stranger entered and invited her 
to dance. Eound and round they whirled un- 
ceasingly, faster and faster, until, to the horror of 
all present, she fell down dead. Every year after- 
wards, on the same day as this tragic event 
happened, exactly at midnight, the mansion long 
resounded with diabolic music, the lady haunting 
the scene of her fearful death. There are 
numerous versions of this story, and one current 
in Denmark is known as ' The Indefatigable 
Fiddler.' It appears that on a certain Sunday 
evening, some young people were merrymaking, 
when it was decided to have a little dancing. In 
the midst of an animated discussion as to how 
they could procure a musician, one of the party 
boastingly said, ' Now, that leave to me. I will 
bring you a musician, even if it should be the 
devil himself.' Thereupon he left the house, and 
had not gone far when he met a poverty-looking 
man with a fiddle under his arm, who, for a 
certain sum, agreed to play. Soon the young 


people, spellbound by the fiddler's music, were 
frantically dancing up and down the room unable 
to stop, and in spite of their entreaties he con- 
tinued playing. They must have soon died of 
exhaustion, had not the parish priest arrived at 
the farmhouse, and expelled the fiddler by certain 
mystic words. Sometimes, it is said, the sound of 
music, such as harp-playing, is heard in the most 
sequestered spots, and is attributed to super- 
natural agency. The Welsh peasantry thought it 
proceeded from the fairies, who were supposed to 
be specially fond of this instrument ; but such 
music had this peculiarity — no one could ever 
learn the tune. 

Cortachy Castle, the seat of the Earl of Airlie, 
has long had its mysterious drummer ; and when- 
ever the sound of his drum is heard, it betokens 
the speedy death of a member of the Ogilvie family. 
The story goes that ' either the drummer, or some 
officer whose emissary he was, had excited the 
jealousy of a former Lord Airlie, and that in conse- 
quence he was put to death by being thrust into his 
own drum and flung from the window of the tower, 
in which is situated the chamber where his music 

E E 


is apparently chiefly heard. It is said that he 
threatened to haunt the family if his life were taken,' 
a promise which he has fulfilled.^ With this strange 
warning may be compared the amusing story 
popularly known as ^ The Drummer of Tedworth,' 
in which the ghost or evil spirit of a drummer, or 
the ghost of a drum, performed the principal part 
in this mysterious drama for ' two entire years.' 
The story, as succinctly given by George Cruikshank,^ 
goes that in March 1661, Mr. Monpesson, a magis- 
trate, caused a vagrant drummer to be arrested, 
who had been annoying the country by noisy 
demands for charity, and had ordered his drum to 
be taken from him, and left in the bailiff's house. 
About the middle of the following April, when Mr. 
Monpesson was preparing for a journey to London, 
the bailiff sent the drum to his house. But on his 
return home, he was informed that noises had been 
heard, and then he heard the noises himself, which 
were a ' thumping and drumming,' accompanied by 
* a strange noise and hollow sound.' The sign of it 
when it came was like a hurling in the air over 

' See Ingram's Haiintcd Homes, p. 53. 

- A Discovery Concerning Ghosts, 1864, pp. 18, 19. 


the house, and at its gomg off, the beating of a 
drum, Hke that of the * breaking up of a guard.' 
After a month's disturbance outside the house, it 
came into the room where the drum lay. For an 
hour together it would beat 'Eoundheads and 
Cockolds,' the ' tattoo,' and several other points of 
war as well as any drummer. Upon one occasion, 
when many were present, a gentleman said, ' Satan, 
if the drummer set thee to work, give three 
knocks,' which it did at once. And for further 
trial, he bid it for confirmation, if it were the 
drummer, to give five knocks and no more that 
night, which it did, and left the house quiet all the 
night after. * But,' as George Cruikshank observes, 
* strange as it certainly was, is it not still more 
strange that educated gentlemen, and even clergy- 
men, as in this case, also should believe that the 
Almighty would suffer an evil spirit to disturb and 
affright a whole innocent family, because the head 
of that family had, in his capacity as magistrate, 
thought it his duty to take away a drum from no 
doubt a drunken drummer, who, by his noisy 
conduct, had become a nuisance to the neighbour- 
hood ? ' 

E E 2 


In many parts of the country, phantom bells 
are supposed to be heard ringmg their ghostly 
peals. Near Blackpool, about two miles out at sea, 
there once stood, tradition says, the church and 
cemetery of Kilmigrol, long ago submerged. Even 
now, in rough weather, the melancholy chimes of the 
bells may be heard sounding over the restless waters. 
A similar story is told of Jersey. According to a local 
legend, many years ago, * the twelve parish churches 
in that island possessed each a valuable peal of bells, 
but during a long civil war the bells were sold to 
defray the expenses of the troops. The bells were 
sent to France, but on the passage the ship 
foundered, and everything was lost. Since then, 
during a storm, these bells always ring at sea, and 
to this day the fishermen of St. Ouen's Bay, before 
embarking, go to the edge of the water to listen if 
they can hear the bells ; if so, nothing will induce 
them to leave the shore.' With this story may be 
compared one told of Whitby Abbey, which was 
suppressed in 1539. The bells were sold, and 
I)laced on board to be conveyed to London. But, 
as soon as the vessel had moved out into the bay* 
it sank, and beneath the waters the bells may 


occasionally be heard, a legend which has been 
thus poetically described : 

Up from the heart of the ocean 

The mellow music peals, 
"WTiere the sunlight makes its golden path, 

And the seamew flits and wheels. 

For many a chequered century, 

Untired by flying time, 
The bells no human fingers touch 

Have rung their hidden chime. 

To this day the tower of Forrabury Church, 
Cornwall, or, as it has been called by Mr. Hawker, 
* the silent tower of Bottreaux,' remains without 
bells. It appears the bells were cast and shipped 
for Forrabury, but as the ship neared the shore, 
the captain swore and used profane language, 
whereupon the vessel sank beneath a sudden swell 
of the ocean. As it went down, the bells were heard 
tolling with a muffled peal ; and ever since, when 
storms are at hand, their phantom sound is still 
audible from beneath the waves : 

Still when the storm of Bottreaux' s waves 
Is waking in his weedy caves, 
Those bells that sullen surges hide, 
Peal their deep tones beneath the tide — 


' Come to thy God in time,' 
Thus saith the ocean chime ; 
' Storm, whirlpool, billow past, 
Come to thy God at last.' 

Legends of this kind remind us of Southey's 
ballad of the * Inchcape Bell,' founded on a tragic 
legend. The abbots of Aberbrothock (Arbroath) 
fixed a bell on a rock, as a kindly warning to 
sailors, that obstruction having long been con- 
sidered the chief difficulty in the navigation of the 
Firth of Forth. The bell was so fastened as to be 
rung by the agitation of the waves, but one day, 
Sir Ealph the Eover ^ cut the bell from the 
Inchcape float,' and down sank the bell with a 
gurgling sound. Afterwards, 

Sir Ealph the Eover sailed away. 
He scoured the sea for many a day, 
And now grown rich with plmidered store. 
He steers his course for Scotland's shore. 

But the night is dark and hazy, and — 

They hear no sound, the swell is strong, 
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along, 
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock. 
' Christ ! It is the Inchcape rock I ' 

But it is too late — the ship is doomed : 


Sir Ealph the Eover tore his hair ; 
He cursed himself in his despair. 
The waves rush in on every side ; 
The ship is sinking beneath the tide. 

But even in his dying fear 
One dreadful sound could the rover hear, 
A sound as if with the Inchcape bell, 
The devil below was ringing his knell. 

Indeed, there are all kinds of whimsical stories 
current of phantom bells, and according to a 
tradition at Tunstall, in Norfolk, the parson and 
churchwardens disputed for the possession of some 
bells which had become useless because the tower 
was burnt. But, during their altercation, the arch- 
fiend quickly travelled off with the bells, and being 
pursued by the parson, who began to exorcise in 
Latin, he dived into the earth with his ponderous 
burden, and the place where he disappeared is a 
boggy pool of water, called * Hell Hole.' Notwith- 
standing the aversion of the powers of darkness 
to such sounds, even these bells are occasionally 
permitted to favour their native place with a 
ghostly peal. Similarly, at Fisherty Brow, near 
Lonsdale, there is a sort of hollow where, as the 
legend runs, a church, parson, and congregation 


were swallowed up. On a Sunday morning the 
bells may be heard ringing a phantom peal by 
anyone who puts his ear to the ground. 

Occasionally, it is said, phantom music, by way 
of warning, is heard just before a death, instances 
of which are numerous. 

Samuel Foote, in the year 1740, while visiting 
at his father's house in Truro, was kept awake by 
sounds of sweet music. His uncle was at about 
the same time murdered by assassins. This strange 
occurrence is thus told by Mr. Ingram.^ Foote's 
maternal uncles were Sir John Goodere and Captain 
Goodere, a naval officer. In 1740 the two brothers 
dined at a friend's house near Bristol. For a long 
time they had been on bad terms, owing to certain 
money transactions, but at the dinner-table a recon- 
ciliation was, to all appearance, arrived at between 
them. But, on his return home. Sir John was way- 
laid by some men from his brother's vessel, acting 
by his brother's authority, carried on board, and 
deliberately strangled. Captain Goodere not only 
unconcernedly looking on, but furnishing the rope 
with which the crime was committed. The 
* Haunted Homes, p. 253. 


strangest part of this terrible tale, ho\\'ever, 
remains to be told. On the night the murder was 
perpetrated, Foote arrived at his father's house 
in Truro, and he used to relate how he was 
kept awake for some time by the softest and 
sweetest strains of music he had ever heard. At 
first he tried to fancy it was a serenade got up by 
some of the family to welcome him home, but not 
being able to discover any trace of the musicians, 
he came to the conclusion that he was deceived by 
his own imagination. He shortly afterwards learnt 
that the murder had been consummated at the 
same hour of the same night as he had been 
haunted by the mysterious sounds. 




The deceptiveness of sound in olden times was very 
little understood, and hence originated, in most 
countries, a host of traditionary tales descriptive 
of sundry mysterious noises which were generally 
attributed to supernatural agencies. Hence, it is 
impossible to say how many a ghost story would 
long ago have found a satisfactory solution if only 
attention had been paid to the properties of sound. 
But by disregarding the laws which regulate the 
conditions upon which sound is oftentimes more 
or less audible, the imagmation has frequently 
conjured up the most fantastic reasons for some 
mysterious rumbling which has suddenly trespassed 
on the silence of the night. Thus, Dr. Tyndall 
has proved how the atmosphere is occasionally in 
an unusual degree more transparent or opaque to 
sound as well as to light, and supported this theory 


by referring to the audibility of fog- signals, which 
vary according to the state of the weather. Facts 
of this kind are of the utmost importance in ac- 
counting, it may be, for some apparently inex- 
plicable sound. It is sometimes forgotten, too, 
that sounds are far more audible at night time than 
during the day, and what would fail to attract 
notice, even if heard during the hours of sunlight, 
would probably be treated in a different aspect when 
once the darkness of evening had set in. There is 
perhaps no superstition so deeply rooted in the popu- 
lar mind as the belief in what are generally termed 

* death-warnings ' ; the common opinion being that 
death announces its approach by certain mysterious 
noises, a powerful illustration of which occurs in 

* Macbeth ' (Act ii. sc. 3), where Lennox graphically 
describes how, on the awful night in which Duncan 
is murdered — 

Our chimneys were blown down : and, as they say 
Lamentings heard i' the ak ; strange screams of death : 
And prophesying, with accents terrible. 
Of dire combustion, and confused events. 
New hatch' d to the woeful time. 

Modern folk-lore holds either that a knocking or 
rumbling in the floor is an omen of death about to 


happen, or that dying persons themselves announce 
their dissokition to their friends in such strange 

In recent years one of the most interesting 
instances of a phantom voice occurred in connection 
with the death of Mr. George Smith, the well- 
known Assyriologist. This eminent scholar died 
at Aleppo, on August 19, 1876, at about six o'clock 
in the afternoon. On the same day, and at about 
the same time, as Dr. Delitzsch — a friend and fellows- 
worker of Mr. Smith — was passing within a stone's 
throw of the house in which he had lived when in 
London, he suddenly heard his own name uttered 
aloud ' in a most piercing cry,' which a contemporary 
record of the time said * thrilled him to the marrow.' 
The fact impressed Dr. Delitzsch so much that he 
looked at his watch, made a note of the hour, and 
recorded the fact in his note-book, this being one 
of those straightforward and unimpeachable coin- 
cidences which, even to an opponent, is difficult to 

There can be no doubt that many of the 
unearthly noises heard near and in lonely houses 
' Tylor's Primitive Culture, i. p. 145. 


on the coast were produced by an illicit class of 
spirits, that is, through the agency of smugglers, 
' in order to alarm and drive all others but their 
accomplices from their haunts.' Thus, in a house 
at Eottingdean, Sussex, all kinds of strange noises 
were heard night after night, when suddenly they 
ceased. Soon afterwards one of a gang of smug- 
glers confessed to their having made a secret 
passage from the beach close by the house, and that, 
wishing to induce the occupiers to abandon it, they 
had rolled at the dead of night tub after tub of 
spirits up the passage, and so had caused it to be 
reported that the place was haunted.^ George 
Cruikshank tells how, in the wine cellar of a house 
somewhere near Blackheath, there were sometimes 
heard strange noises in the evening and at night- 
time, such as knocking, groaning, footsteps, &c. 
The master of the house at last determined ' to lay 
the ghost ' if possible, and one evening, when these 
noises had been heard, went with his servants to 
the cellar, where they discovered an under-gardener 
in a drunken state. It seems that he had tunnelled 

' Mrs. Latham's ' West Sussex Superstitions,' Folk-lore 
Record, i. p. 21. 


a hole from the tool-house through the wall into 
the cellar. 

In numerous cases, too, there can be no doubt 
that strange noises heard in the silent hours of the 
night have been due to some cleverly-devised trick 
for the purpose, in many cases, of keeping the 
house uninhabited, and thereby benefiting, it may 
be, some impecunious care-taker. A story is told 
of a ghost — which turned out to be the trick of 
a Franciscan friar — that answered questions by 
knocking in the Catholic church of Orleans, and 
demanded the removal of the provost's Lutheran 
wife, who had been buried there. ^ But one of the 
most eccentric instances of spiritual antics was 
the noises said to have been heard at Epworth 
Parsonage in the time of the Eev. Samuel Wesley, 
these sounds having consisted of ' knockings ' and 
* groanings,' of * footsteps,' and ' rustling of silk 
trailing along,' ' clattering of the iron casement,' 
and ' clattering of the warming pan,' and all sorts 
of frightful noises, which frightened even a big 
dog, a large mastiff, who used, at first, when he 
heard the noises, ' to bark, and leap, and snap on 
' See Tylor's Primitive CtiUure, i. p. 146. 


one side and the other, and that frequently before 
anyone in the room heard the noises at all ; but 
after two or three days he used to creep away 
before the noise began, and by this the family knew 
it was at hand.' Mr. Wesley at one time thought 
it was rats, and sent for a horn to blow them away. 
But this made matters worse, for after the horn 
was blown the noise came in the daytime as well. 
Some of the Wesley family believed it to be super- 
natural hauntings, and explained the cause of it 
thus : at morning and evening prayers, * when the 
Eev. Samuel Wesley commenced prayer for the 
king, a knocking began all round the room, and a 
thundering knock attended the Amen.' Mr. Wesley 
observed that his wife did not say 'Amen ' to the 
prayer for the king, but Mrs. Wesley added she 
could not, for she did not believe that the Prince 
of Orange was king.^ Ewshott House, Hampshire, 
was disturbed by equally strange sounds, and 
Glamis Castle, with its secret room, has long been 
famous for the mysterious noises, knocking, and 
hammering heard at night-time, which a lady once 
remarked reminded her of the erection of a scaffold. 

' See Southey's Life of Wesley. 


The miscreant ghosts of wicked people are sup- 
posed to make all kmds of unearthly noises, for as 
they cannot enjoy peace in their graves, they delight 
in annoying the occupants of their mortal haunts. 
Lowther Hall, the residence of the ' bad Lord Lons- 
dale,' was disturbed by such uncanny sounds that 
neither men nor animals were permitted to rest, 
and many of the ghost stories told of our old 
country houses describe the peculiar noises made 
by their ghostly tenants. The mother of the 
premier, George Canning, used to tell her ex- 
periences of a haunted house in Plymouth, where 
she stayed during a theatrical engagement. Having 
learnt from a Mr. Bernard, who was connected 
with the theatre, that he could obtain comfortable 
apartments for her at a moderate price, she accepted 
his offer. ' There is,' said he, ' a house belonging to 
our carpenter that is reported to be haunted, and 
nobody will live in it. If you like to have it you 
may, and for nothing, I believe, for he is so anxious 
to get a tenant ; only you must not let it be known 
that you do not pay any rent for it.' It turned 
out as Mr. Bernard had informed her, for night 
after night she heard all such noises as are wont 


to proceed from a workshop, although, on examining 
every part of the house herself, she found nothing 
to account for this extraordinary series of noises. 

Occasionally, it is said, before the perpetration 
of any dreadful crime, as murder, a supernatural 
sound is heard, A murder was committed, for 
instance, at Cottertown, of Auchanasie, near Keith, 
on January 11, 1797, in connection with which the 
following facts have been recorded : * On the day 
on which the deed was done, two men, strangers 
to the district, called at a farmhouse about three 
miles from the house in which lived the old folk 
that were murdered. Shortly before the tragic 
act was committed, a sound was heard passing 
along the road the two men were seen to take, in 
the direction of the place at which the murder 
was perpetrated. So loud and extraordinary was 
the noise that the people left their houses to see 
what it was that was passing. To the amazement 
of every one, nothing was to be seen, though it 
was moonlight, and moonlight so bright that it 
aroused attention. All believed something dread- 
ful was to happen, and some proposed to follow 
the sound. About the time this discussion was 

F F 


going on, a blaze of fire arose on the hill of 
Auchanasie. The foul deed had been accomplished, 
and the cottage set on fire. By next day all knew 
of what the mj'sterious sound had been the fore- 
runner.' ^ At Wheal Yor Mine an unaccountable noise 
has been generally supposed to be a warning. On 
Barry Island, near Cardiff, it is said that certain 
ghostly noises were formerly heard in it — sounds 
resembling the clanking of chains, hammering of 
iron, and blowing of bellows, and which were sup- 
posed to be made by the fiends whom Merlin 
had set to work to frame the wall of crags to 
surround Carmarthen. 

The following extract from Lockhart's * Life of 
Sir Walter Scott' records a strange noise which 
was heard while the new house at Abbotsford was 
being built, the novelist living in an older part, 
close adjoining: 'Walter Scott to Daniel Terry, 
April 30, 1818. . . . The exposed state of my 
house has led to a mysterious disturbance. The 
night before last we were awakened by a violent 
noise, like drawing heavy boards along the new 
part of the house. I fancied something had 

» Walter Gregor ; Folli-lore of North-East of ScotUnd,^^. 205, 


fallen, and thought no more ahout it ; this was 
about two in the morning. Last night, at the 
same witching hour, the very same noise occurred. 
Mrs. S., as you know, is rather timbersome, so up 
I got, with Beardie's broad sword under my arm — 

Bolt upright, 

And ready to fight. 

But nothing was out of order, neither can I dis- 
cover what occasioned the disturbance.' Mr. 
Lockhart adds : ' On the morning that Mr. Terry 
received the foregoing letter in London, Mr. 
William Erskine was breakfasting with him, and 
the chief subject of their conversation was the 
sudden death of George Bullock, which had 
occurred on the same night, and nearly as they 
could ascertain at the very hour w^hen Scott was 
aroused from his sleep by the "mysterious dis- 
turbance " here described. This coincidence, when 
Scott received Erskine' s minute detail of what 
had happened in Tenterdon Street (that is, the 
death of Bullock, who had the charge of furnishing 
the new rooms at Abbotsford), made a much 
stronger impression on his mind than might be 
gathered from the tone of an ei^uing commu- 

f f2 


nication.' It seems that Bullock had been at 
Abbotsford, and made himself a great favourite 
with old and young. Sir Walter Scott, a week or 
two afterwards, wrote thus to Terry : * Were you 
not struck with the fantastical coincidence of our 
nocturnal disturbances at Abbotsford, with the 
melancholy event that followed ? I protest to 
you the noise resembled half a dozen men at 
work, putting up boards and furniture, and 
nothing can be more certain than that there was 
nobody on the premises at the time. With a few 
additional touches, the story would figure in 
Glanville or Aubrey's collection. In the mean- 
time you may set it down, with poor Dubisson's 
warnings, as a remarkable coincidence coming 
under your own observation.' 

In a paper by Mrs. Edwards, in * Macmillan's 
Magazine,' entitled * The Mystery of Pezazi,' an 
account is given of constant disturbing sounds of 
nocturnal, tree-felling heard near a bungalow in 
Ce^'lon, where exammation proved that no trees 
had been felled. Mrs. Edwards, her husband, and 
their servants were on several occasions disturbed 
by these sounds, which were unmistakable and 


distinct. The Singhalese attribute these noises to 
a Pezazi, or spirit. A description of precisely the 
same disturbances occurs, writes Mr. Andrew 
Lang/ in Sahagun's account of the superstitions 
of the Aztecs, and it seems that the Galapagos 
Islands, ' suthard of the line,' were haunted by 
the midnight axe. * De Quincey,' adds Mr. Lang, 
* who certainly had not heard the Ceylon story, 
and who probably would have mentioned Sahagun's 
had he known it, describes the effect produced by 
the midnight axe on the nerves of his brother, 
Pink : *' So it was, and attested by generations 
of sea-vagabonds, that every night, duly as the 
sun went down and the twilight began to prevail, 
a sound arose — audible to other islands, and to 
every ship lying quietly at anchor in that neigh- 
bourhood — of a woodcutter's axe. . . . The close of 
the story was that after, I suppose, ten or twelve 
minutes of hacking and hewing, a horrid crash 
was heard, announcing that the tree, if tree it 
were, that never yet was made visible to daylight 
search, had yielded to the old woodman's persecu- 
tion. . . . The woodcutter's axe began to intermit 
about the earliest approach of dawn, and as hght 
^ Nineteenth Ccntimj, vol. xvii. p. G27. 


strengthened it ceased entirely, after poor Pink's 
ghostly panic grew insupportable." ' 

Among the American Indians all the sounds 
that issued from caverns were thought to be pro- 
duced by their spiritual inhabitants. The Sonora 
Indians say that departed souls dwell among the 
caves and nooks of their cliffs, and that echoes 
often heard there are their voices. Similarly, 
when explosions were heard, caused by the sul- 
phurous gas from the rocks around the head-waters 
of Lake Ontario, the superstitious Indians attri- 
buted them to the breathing of the Manitones.^ 
The modern Daj^aks, Siamese, and Singhalese 
agree with the Esths as to noises being caused by 
spirits. European folk-lore has long ascribed most 
of the unexplained noises to the agency of spirits, 
and to this day Franconian damsels go to a tree 
on St. Thomas's Day, knock three times, and listen 
for the indwelling spirit to inform them from raps 
within what kind of husbands they are to have. 
Hence the night is known as ' Little Knocker's 
Night.' There is the Poltergeist of the German, 
a mischievous spirit, who wanders about the house 
at night making all kinds of strange noises. 

' Dormau's Primitive Superstitions, p. 302. 

1/ Kmv v/ - (^^ 



Abbot, ghost of, in Abbey of Clare, 

Abbotsford, 434-436 
Abipones, superstitions of, 89, 336, 

Accidents, ghosts appear at scene 

of, 168 
African beliefs, 30, 90-91, 182, 346 
Agnes', St., Fast, 385 
Alaska belief, 10 
Albans, St., Duchess of, 100 
Aleutian islanders, 341 
Algonquin Indians, 40, 309, 339 
Allanbank, ghost at, 312 
Allhallow Eve, 118 
Althorp, apparition seen at, 319 
American Indian behefs, 6, 23, 37, 

89, 143, 217, 343, 414, 438 
Ancestor worship, 102 
Andaman islanders, 110 
Andrew's Eve, St., 388 
Angel of death, 273 
Angola, belief in, 182 
Animal ghosts, 102-126 
Arabian belief, 360 
Ash-ridhn, 386 
Ashley Hall, Cheshire, 326 
Assiniboins, belief of, 66 
Astwood Castle, 319 
Australian beliefs, 21, 33, 45, 67, 

165, 340, 343, 360, 395 
Awd Nance, ghost so called, 326 


Aztec legend of Creation, 36 
— belief, 90, 437 

Bad Lord Lonsdale, 311, 432 

Bagley House, 318 

Bahrgeist, 114 

Balcarres, Lord, 372 

Banshee, 221, 271-283, 305, 383 

Barguest, 114 

Barton Hall, haunted, 312 

Basutos, belief of, 3 

Baxter, R., story told by, 250 

Bean-geese, 120 

Bear, soul as. 111 

Becklington Castle, 333 

Bees, soul in form of, 161 

Bell, passing, 15 

Bells, legends of, 420 

— phantom, 420 

— tolling of, 227 
Belludo, Spanish ghost, 147 
Benedictine nun, ghost of, 219 
Benjie Gear, ghost so called, 195 
Ben Jonson, 372 

Benshee, 273 

Bergmouch, spectre so called, 269 

Berkeley Square, mystery of, 317- 

Berry Pomeroy Castle, 318 
Bertha of Eosenberg, 228 
Beswick, Madame, ghost of, 131, 399 




Bible in ghost laying, 192, 197 
Biddick Hall, South, 327 
Bilocation, or double personality, 

Birchen Tower, Hollinwood, 398 
Bird near sick-room, 97 
Birds as soul bearers, 96 

— phantom, 85-101 

— singed, souls as, 96 

— the way of, 96 
Birkbeck ghost, 372-373 
Birraark, 165-166 

Birth, superstitions relating to, 97 
Black dog, spectral, 107-108 

— friar, ghost of, 221, 308 

— Heddon, Northumberland, 398 
Bleeding nun, ghost of, 44 
Blenkinsopp Castle, 326, 400 
Bloodstains, indelible, 146 
Bloody hand, spectre of, 220 
Bluecap, 264 

— lights, 390 
Bodach au Dun, 220 

— Gartin, 221 

— Glas, 220 
Boggan, 114 

Boggart, at Clegg Hall, 199 

Boguest, 114 

Bohemian belief, 86, 160, 183, 211, 

228, 336, 339 
Boleyn, Lady Ann, 147 
Bolivia, Yuricares of, 37 
Bohes pit, 203 
Bolotu, 28 

Bones of dead preserved, 36-37 
Booty's ghost, 241-244 
Borneo, Dayaks of, 18, 438 
Bothwell, Lady, ghost of, 74, 308 
Bottle imps, 185 
Bottreaux, bells of, 421 
Brandenburg, Elector of, 229 
Brazil, Indians of, 33, 41, 45, 90, 

359, 393 
Brides, ghosts of, 61 


Bridge End House, 327 

Brocken, spectre of, 352 

Brougham, Lord, 245 

Brownies, 313, 404 

Brown lady at Kainham, 312 

Bulgarian belief, 86, 160, 189 

Bull, ghost as a, 104 

Burial-grounds, haunted, 343 

Burma, 359 

Burton Agnes Hall, 326 

Butterflies, phantom, 156-162 

Byron, Lord, 210, 221 

— Sir John, the Little, 313 

Caistoe H.y:.L, ghost at, 150 
Calabar superstition, 336 
Californian beliefs, 15, 35, 90 
Candles in ghost laying, 190 

— snuff of, taken for ghost laying, 

— spectral, 139 
Canning, George, 432 
Capelthwaite, 114 
Cassioway, 111 
Castle, sunken, 348 

Cedar room at Ashley Hall, 320 

Chappie, ghost so called, 306 

Chartley Park, 224 

Chasse Macabee, 125 

Checks against ghosts, 354-362 

Chevalier de Saxe, 171 

Chiancungi, fortune-tellers, 173 

Chibehas, 184 

Chinese behef, 6, 19, 33, 53, 55, 62, 

65, 66, 72, 195, 211, 292, 339, 358 
Choctaw belief, 29, 37 
Chough, King Arthur in form of, 

Christmastide, ghosts at, 302-303 
Church ghosts, 330-331 

— lamb, 126 

— porch, 332-333, 387 

— yard spectres, 69 




Churton Hall, 321 

Clegg Hall boggart, 199, 322 

Clock superstition, 227 

Cloud, soul as white, 4 

Cobal, ghost so called, 270 

Cock-crow, 354- 356 

Cocks' feathers hinder exit of soul, 

Cold lad, 313 
Colt, ghost as a, 103 
Combermere Abbey, 322 
Compacts between living and dead, 

Copeland, lady of, 133 
Corby Castle, ghost at, 311 
Cornish beliefs, 103, 108, 120, 128, 

201, 207, 208, 262, 294, 300, 421 
— legend of King Arthur, 94 
Corn wolf, 396 
Corpse candle, 139-140 
Cortachy Castle haunted, 311, 

Courting a ghost, 384 
Coved saloon at Combermere Abbey, 

Cows, ghosts in form of, 109 
Craighouse, 325 
Creslow Manor House, 313 
Criminals, ghosts of, 69 
Crook Hall haunted, 327 
Cross, check against evil spirits, 

358, 361 
Cross-roads, ghosts at, 61, 383 
Cruikshank, George, 429 
Cullaby Castle, 320 
Cumberland, 76, 78, 266, 366 
Cumnor Hall, 77, 320 
Cutty Soams, 264 
Cwn y Wybe, 118 
Cyprus, 183 

Dandy dogs, 118, 120, 121 
Danish superstitions, 8, 48, 61, 


97, 126, 183, 215, 289, 361, 385, 
Dead, mutilation of, 359-360 

— unburied, 43-49 

— worship of, 63 
Death bell, 413 

— birds presage of, 97-98 

— warnings, 12, 13, 219, 232, 427 
Delitzsch, Dr., 428 

Demon, soul as, 62 
Denis, St., 145 
Denton Hall, 326 
Departed, Bay of the, 206 
Derwentwater, Lady, 321 
Desert, water of, 352 
Devil, compact with Lord Soulis, 

— powerless at cock-crow, 355 

— tries to seize soul at death, 14 
Devonshire beliefs, 97, 98, 376 
Diedrick of Bern, 125 
Dishonesty in life causes soul to 

wander, 51 
Doe, White, of Eylstone, 108 
Dogs of hell, 122 

— spectral, 105-106 

— the sky, 122 
Donart's Castle, St., 76 
Doors unfastened at death, 6 
Dorcas, ghost so called, 267 
Dorchester, Lord, 380 
Dorsetshire, 149 

Doves in ghost-lore, 94, 98 
Doyle, Bishop, death of, 100 
Dreams, proof of soul's existence, 

17, 18 
Dress, phantom, 303-309 
Drowned, ghosts of, 206-213 
Drummer, mysterious, 311 

— of Tedworth, 317 
Duck, soul as, 87 
Durham, 151 
Dutch belief, 8-9 
Dyterbjernat, 125 




Eagle, 94, 96 
Easterton ghost, the, 329 
Ebb of tide, death at, 15-16 
Edge Hill, strange phenomenon at, 

Edgewell oak, 222 
Edgeworth, Maria, 372 
Effigy, burial in, 49 
Elixir of life, 175 
Elizabeth, Queen, and her fetch, 

Elymas, the sorcerer, 164 
Epworth Parsonage haunted, 328, 

Eskimo belief, 6, 111, 143, 359 
Essex, 111 
Ewshott House haunted, 318, 

Exorcism, 88, 166 
Eye, soul in the, 3, 4 

Fairy music, 413 

Fata Morgana, 352 

Feathers, game, hinder exit of soul, 

Female fairy, 273 
Fetches, 363-364 
Fiddler, the indefatigable, 416 
Fijian beliefs, 19, 23, 27-28, 182, 

217, 309, 339 
Finland, custom in, 336 
Fire, check against ghosts, 358 
Fish animated by souls, 111 
Flame, soul in, 137 
Flax-seed, charm against ghosts, 

Flies, souls as, 161 
Flying Dutchman, 286, 293 
Foot of the Fawn, 99 
Foote, Samuel, 424 
Foundation sacrifices, 30 
French behefs, 5, 109, 125, 133, 

231, 270, 289, 291 


Furious host, 136 
Fye, or wi'aith, 369 

Gabriel hounds, 117, 136 

— Katchets, 118-119 
Galicia, belief in, 37 

Game feathers hinder exit of soul, 

German beliefs, 5, 6, 8, 9, 56, 86, 97, 

99, 123, 135-136, 155, 183, 212, 

227, 260, 338, 341, 348, 360, 388, 

391, 396 
Ghosts and hidden treasures, 397- 


— checks against, 354-362 

— different classes of, 41 

— headless, 33, 53, 69, 144-158, 
306, 383 

— times of appearing, 382-390 

— why they wander, 50-63 
Ghost laying, 104, 179-205 

— of the Hill, 220 

— raising, 163-178 

— seers, 214-218 

Glamis Castle haunted, 313, 431 
Gnat, soul as, 161 
Goblin friar, 313 
Golden mountain, 146 
Gould, Madame, 98 
Grass-wolf, 396 
Grave-sow, 126 
Graves, haunted, 341 

— treading on, 345 
Gray sow, 126 

Greece, beliefs in, 25, 183, 394 
Greenland, behefs in, 23, 29, 339 
Grief causes soul to wander, 61 
Gunpowder and ghosts, 360-361 
Gmiinheg, family of, 2^ 

Hackwood House haunted, 32 
Hairy left hand, girl with, 221 




Hallow Eve, 388 

Hamilton, Lady, of Bothwellhaugh, 

Hanged, ghosts of, 53 
Hare, ghost as, 103, 271 
Harlequin, 125 
Haunted houses, 310-334 

— localities, 335-353 

Headless ghosts, 33, 53, 69, 144- 

158, 306, 383 
Heart, seat of soul, 2, 3 
Hell Hole, 423 
Henequin, 125 
Herburt family, 94 
Hermitage Castle, 322, 403 
Herring piece, 93 

— spear, 93 

Hidden treasures and ghosts, 397- 

Hilton Castle, 313 
Hindu behefs, 339 

— dirge, 11 

Hinton Ampner Manor House, 312 
Hoby, Lady, 321 
Holland House, 145, 314 
Holly and ghost laying, 188 

— charm against evil spirits, 358 
Holt Castle, 319 

Hooper of Sennen Cove, 300 
Horse, spectre as, 125 

— shoe, 361 

Hottentot customs at death, 336, 

Hound, ghost as, 105 
House-fire put out at death, 359 
Houses, haunted, 310-334 
Howard, Lady, ghost of, 104 
Hugh Capet, 125 
Hulme Castle, treasures at, 397 
Hungary, belief in, 61 
Hunt, spectral, 124-125 
Huntsman, wild, 125 
Hurons of America, belief of, 67 
Hyssington Church, ghost at, 104 


Ignes Fatui, ghost as, 50-51 
Incantations against ghosts, 164 
Inchcape Bell, 422-423 
India, beliefs in, 12, 62, 67, 96, 99, 

109, 110, 340, 343, 346, 357, 393, 

395, 412, 414 
Insect life, 102 
Irish superstitions, 11, 94, 137, 

146, 153, 156-157, 226, 274-275, 

344, 350, 370, 377, 383, 405, 

Iroquois of North America, beliefs 

of, 44, 347, 393 
Itahan behef, 358 
— burial custom, 339 

Jackals, ghosts as, 9 

Japanese ghost story, 72 

— mode of raising ghost, 166 

Jeffrey, Lady, ghost of, 187 

Jemmy Lowther, 311 

Juniper, spirit-haunted tree, 395 

Kaffir beliefs, 2, 336 
Kaneka superstition, 230-231 
Karens, beliefs of, 45, 67, 160, 309 
Kendal, Duchess of, 100 
Kilncote church porch, 332 
Kinchardines, 220 
Kirk-grim, 125 
Knauff-Kriegen, 270 
Knockers, 262 

Lady of Copeland, 133 

— of Death, 273 

— of the Golden Casket, 129 

— of the Lantern, 128 

— Winter's walk, 156 
Lamb buried under altar, 126 

— church, 126 
Lambton, Madame, 327 




Lancashire, 4-5, 14, 74-75, 91-92, 

112, 198, 214, 376 
Lavington, East, parsonage, 329 
Lightfoot, Lady, 77 
Lights, phantom, 127-143 
Lily, soul as, 391-392 
Lincolnshire, 129 
Lion, 226 

Little Knocker's Night, 438 
Lledwith, 370 

Locks unfastened at death, 5, 7 
Lowther Hall haunted, 432 
Ly-erg, 220 
Lyttelton, Lord, 100 

Madagascae, beliefs in, 23, 346 

Madge Figg's chair, 129 

Madness causes soul to wander, 

Magic circle, 167 
Malay behef, 3 
Malevolent spirits, 70 
Manes worship, 63 
Manx fishermen, 93 
Maori belief, 336 
Mark's, St., Eve, 332, 386 
Martyrs, ghosts of, 86 
Mary Wray, spectre so called, 152 
Mauthe Doog, 116-117, 311 
May Moulach, 221 
Mazarine, Duchess of, 254 
Mermaid, 415 
Mexican behef, 89 
Midsummer Eve, 387 
Milky-way, the, 96 
Miners' ghosts, 257-272, 370-371 
Mines, ghosts in, 108, 262-263 
Mirage, 352 
Mohin, Lord, 372 
Money hidden by ghosts, 460-469 
Monkey, soul as, 110 
Mountain, abode of spirits, 348 
Mourning customs, 340 


Mouse, soul as, 110 
Mouth, escape of soul from, 2-5 
Murder discovered through ghost, 

— preceded, by supernatural 
sounds, 433-434 

Murdered, ghosts of, 33, 64-84 
Murderers, ghosts of, 52-53, 54, 360 
Music, phantom, 411-425 

— at sea, 413 

Necromaxcy, 165 

Netherby Hall, 327 

Newstead Abbey, 313 

New Zealanders, beliefs of, 3, 35, 

Nix, river spirit, 202 
Norfolk, 112, 148, 149, 208, 423 
Northamptonshire, 383-384, 409- 

Northumberland, 150, 398 
Norwegian beliefs, 68, 76, 360 
Nostrils, exit of soul through, 3 
Nun, bleeding, 44 
— of Walton, spectre so called, 

Nymph of air, 273 

Oak, holes in, 395 
Obrick's colt, 103 
Ojibway, beliefs in, 30, 162, 184, 

185, 217, 291, 336, 339, 347 
Old Barbery, ghost so called, 326- 


— Hummums, 316 

Orleans, Catholic church of, 430 
Ottawas, beliefs of, 45, 68 
Oulton House, Suffolk, 322 
Ouse, river, 225 

Owls and Arundel of Wardour, 99 

— as souls, 94-95 




Oxenham family, death-omen of, 

Padfoit, 113 

Papuans of New Guinea, belief of, 

Parsonages, haunted, 328-329 
Passing bell, 15 
Pawcorance, small bird, 95 
Pearlin, Jean, 305 
Peel Castle haunted, 116-117, 

Peg O'Nell, ghost so called, 200, 

Percy, Sir Joseehne, 150 
Personality, double, 367 
Peruvian beliefs, 36, 257, 387 
Pezazi, mystery of, 436-437 
Phantom bells, 420-421 

— birds, 85-101 

— butterflies, 159-162 

— dress, 303-309 

— lights, 127-143 

— music, 411-425 

— sounds, 426-438 
Philosopher's stone, 175 
Pig, ghost as, 125 

Pigeon feathers hinder exit of soul, 

— ghost as a, 86 
Pigott, Madame, 197 
Pileck family, 94 
Pirate wrecker, 294 
Polish legend, 94 

Poltergeist, a spectre in Germany, 

Polynesian belief, 45 
Pomerania, belief in, 183 
Porter, Anna Maria, 373 
Potawatomies, 184 
Powis Castle, 320 
Prophecy at death, 13-14 
Pysling, form of ghost, 70 


Eabbit, 271 

Kadiant boy, 129, 311 

Rainham, story Marquis of Town- 

shend, 312 
Ramhurst Manor House, 312 
Eavens as ghosts of the murdered, 

— omens of death, 100 
Red Sea, ghosts laid in, 201, 203- 

Piedwing, noise caused by, 93 
Eich, Lady Diana, 366 
Eobin redbreast, 100-101 
Eobsart, Amy, 77, 202, 320 
Eoof , hole made in for exit of soul, 

Eose, white, soul as, 392 
Eoslin Chapel, 141 
Eothiemurcus, 220 
Eoumenian legend, 31 
Eufus, William, fetch of, 34 
Eussia, Catharine of, 369 
Eussian behefs, 2, 12, 32, 137, 159, 

161, 338, 349, 358 
Eusthng lady, the, 327 

Sacrifices, foundation, 30 
— to souls of departed, 62 
Samlesbury Hall, 322 
Sampford Peverel ghost, 322 
Sandwich Islanders, 340 
Scotch beliefs, 6, 7, 11, 61, 73, 125, 
129, 169, 180, 194, 230, 239,258, 
265, 312, 359, 369, 370, 401-402 
Scott, Sir Walter, 434-435 
Seals, spectral, 106 
Sea-phantoms, 284-302 
Seaton Delaval Castle, 321 
Second sight, 22, 233-244 
Seminoles of Florida, 4, 336 
Serpent comes out of mouth, 109 
Servian belief, 160 
Seven whistlers, 91 




Sexhow, ghost at, 399 
Shadow sight, 233 
— soul as, 29-82 
Sheep, ghosts as, 109 
Shelley and his wraith, 3G5 
Shell fire, 187 
Shrieking woman, the, 71 
Shropshire, 55, 61, 103-104, 151- 

153, 181-187, 190 
Shuck's Lane, 112 
Siamese superstitions, 67, 212, 

Siberian belief, 358 
Silky, name of a ghost, 130, 305, 

321, 327, 398 
Silky's bridge, 131 

Simon Magus, 164 

Singed birds, souls as, 96 

Singhalese superstitions, 408, 437- 

Skipsea Castle, 826 

Skull at Agnes Burton Hall, 826 

Smellie, W., 252 

Smith, George, the Assyriologist, 

Smoke, soul as, 2 

Smugglers, 429 

Snakes, ghosts in form of, 62-109 

Sneezing, explanation of, 22 

Soul-bringer, 97 

Soul, appearance of, 40-41 

— bringing back of, 19 

— destination of, 348 

— duplex nature of, 27 

— existence of depends on manner 
of death, 33-35 

— exit of, 1-16 

— materiality of, 24-27 

— nature of, 24-42 

— temporary exit of, 17-23, 338 

— voice of, 39-40 

— weight of, 38-39 
Souldern Rectory, 328 
Souter, or Soutra, Fell, 351 


Spanish beliefs, 5, 360 
Spectral child, 321 

— dogs. 111 

— hunt, 124-5 

— ships, 288-9, 294 

Spells against ghosts, 354-362 

Spirit of air, 273 

Staffordshire rhyme, 51 

Steam, soul as, 3 

Stichios, a kind of spectre, 394 

Storks, 95, 97 

Stradling, Lady, 76 

Strand varsler, 48 

Striker, 112 

Sturgeon, death omen, 222 

Suffolk belief, 149, 184-198 

Suicides, ghosts of, 53 

Sunday children, 215 

Sunken towns, 848 

Sunrise, ghosts disappear at, 890 

Sussex beliefs, 11, 37, 156, 429 

Swallow, ghost as, 86 

Swan, soul in form of, 88 

Swarth or fetch, 866 

Swedish beliefs, 88, 125, 135, 229, 

289, 356, 384-895 
Swinsty Hall, 398 
Switzerland, 161 
Sykes Lumb Farm, 400-401 

Tahiti beliefs, 3, 182 
Talking dog, 311 
Tasks, or wraiths, 370 
Tasmanian belief, 340 
Tears hinder exit of soul, 8-11 
Tedworth, drummer of, 418 
Thomas's Day, St., 438 
Thuringia, Duke Louis of, sign of 

his death, 99 
Tibetan behef, 339 
Tide, life goes out with, 15-16 
Tipperahs of Chittagong, 181 
Tongan belief, 29 




Tower of London haunted, 314- 

Trash, spectre dog so called, 112 
Treasures and ghosts, 397-410 
• — guarded by evil spirits, 257-258 
Trees, spirit-haunted, 391-396 
Trevelyan, seat of, haunted, 321 
Trinity Church, York, ghost at, 

Tulloch Gorms, 221 
Tyrolese superstitions, 4 

Unbaptized, souls of, 136 

Valentine's Eve, St., 386 
Vampires, 189 
Vapour, soul as, 3 
Vingoes, death token of, 221 
Violets spring from graves, 393 

Waddon Hall, 327 
Waff, or fetch, 366 
Wallow Crag, ghost laid under, 

Walton Abbey, 306, 322 
Warwickshire, 263 
Water, relation of ghosts to, 181- 

Weasel, soul as, 110 
Wells, haunted, 348 
Welsh superstitions, 53, 116, 122, 

140, 185, 189, 260-261, 404-405, 



Wheal Vor, mine haunted at, 260, 

Whistlers, the seven, 91 
Whistling, voice of souls, 40 
Whitby Abbey, 420 
White-breasted bird, 97, 223 
White Doe of Kylstone, 108 
— lady, 98, 227-229, 305, 326- 


of Skipsea, 306 

of Sorrow, 278 

Wicked priest, 321 

Willington Mill, 306, 327 

Willow tree, anecdote connected 

with, 223 
Wimbell Pond haunted, 401 
Wisk hounds, 118 
Witchcraft, 7, 106 
Woman of peace, 273 
Worcestershire, 62, 100, 156, 192, 

200, 226 
Wraith-seeing, 363-381 
Wren, superstition connected with, 

Wyecoller Hall, 312 

Yellow Sand, Isle of, 407 
Yesk hounds, 118 
Yeth hounds, 118-119 
Yorkshire, 12, 91, 108, 129-130, 
160, 154, 159, 215, 366 

Zambesi superstition, 341 
Zulus, behefs of, 30, 40, 109 


sporriswooDE and go., new-street SQUAUB 


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